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Kim Nasmyth receives Unilever Science Prize 1996

14 Nov 1996

On 14 November, molecular biologist Kim Nasmyth received the 1.58 million Schilling (approximately 115 000 Euro) Unilever Science Prize from the Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok. The Dutch Academy of Sciences, which selects the winners, has awarded this prize to Nasmyth for his advances in cell cycle research.

Kim Nasmyth, who has been a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) for 10 years, studies the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell division in baker's yeast. This organism serves as a model system for cell cycle regulation in higher organisms, including humans. All eucaryotic cells undergo the same periodic processes: cells grow, duplicate their genetic material and eventually divide. A complex control-system ensures that the individual events are initiated at exactly the right time and precisely coordinated. The orderly process of cell division is a prerequisite for the growth and development of a functioning organism. Faulty cell division can lead to the development of cancer, among other diseases.  

Kim Nasmyth was one of the first to use molecular biological methods to investigate and understand cell cycle regulation. This enabled him to identify various control proteins, including kinases that induce DNA duplication, and cyclins that control kinase activity. By closely observing when these proteins are formed and when they disappear, a detailed picture of how the cell regulates the fine tuning of the individual phases of the cell cycle was obtained. On obtaining the award, Nasmyth stressed that it was a tribute to his entire team and a reassuring sign for the IMP and Boehringer Ingelheim who support his work. It was also an opportunity for him to point out the stimulating research climate he found in Vienna.