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Kim Nasmyth to receive Boveri Award

27 Mar 2003

IMP Director Kim Nasmyth will be honoured with the Boveri Award for Molecular Cancer Genetics in Würzburg on Thursday, 27 March 2003. Nasymth is investigating the mechanisms that enable cells to divide correctly in a healthy organism, but are likely to cause cancer in the event of a disorder. At the IMP, Kim Nasmyth gained decisive insights into how the separation of chromosomes is regulated during cell division.

Pairs of duplicated chromosomes are initially held together by special proteins which Nasmyth named cohesins. Microtubules - responsible for transport processes in the cells - try to pull them apart. Force and counterforce lead to the arrangement of the chromosome pairs in the cell centre. Only at the right time can the cohesin compound be separated by separase, an enzyme also identified by Nasmyth's group as molecular scissors. Errors in the regulation of these processes lead to an unequal distribution of the genetic material, which is characteristic for certain diseases, including numerous tumours.

Kim Nasmyth obtained his insights into the regulation of the cell cycle in genetic and biochemical studies on baker's yeast. This model organism is easy to grow and to study and its basic molecular mechanisms are very similar to those in human cells. 

Kim Nasmyth is a member of numerous renowned research societies in England and America and a recipient of the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Federal Government. The Boveri Prize of the University of Würzburg will be awarded for the first time this year for research into the molecular and genetic causes of cancer. The celebration tales place at the 12th Cancer Congress of the Department of Experimental Cancer Research (AEK) of the German Cancer Society. The award is named after Theodor Boveri who recognised chromosomes as carriers of heredity at the beginning of the twentieth century and linked them to Mendel's rules of inheritance.