Patrick Cramer receives Swedish science prize

September 15, 2021

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Gregori Aminoff Prize to the director at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. The academy honors his groundbreaking research on how RNA is formed in cells.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Cramer

In addition to Cramer, Elena Conti, director at the MPI of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany), and Seth Darst, professor at Rockefeller University in New York (USA), were honored. “Seth Darst and our group have visualized how RNA is formed in the cell, whereas our colleague Elena Conti has studied how RNA is degraded,” Cramer says. For this work, it was necessary to decipher the three-dimensional structures of the molecules involved. X-ray crystallography was an important tool for this.

Together with his team, Cramer has already determined many structures of the so-called RNA polymerases and thus analyzed how these form RNA. RNA polymerases are molecular copying machines that read genes and synthesize RNA. “To determine polymerase structures in different states, we had to keep coming up with new experimental tricks! This also allowed us to help expand the methods of crystallography,” Cramer says. “I thank my former and current co-workers who made this success possible.” (kr)

About the awardee

Cramer studied chemistry in Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Bristol and Cambridge. After completing his PhD at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble (France) he conducted research with future Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg at Stanford University (USA) from 1999 to 2001. He then moved to Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich as Professor of Biochemistry, where he headed the Gene Center from 2004 to 2013. Since 2014, he has been director at the Göttingen MPI for Biophysical Chemistry. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Hector Science Prize, and the Federal Cross of Merit. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

About the Gregori Aminoff Prize

Since 1979, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Gregori Aminoff Prize to researchers who have made outstanding achievements in the field of crystallography. The prize is named after the Swedish mineralogist and artist Gregori Aminoff (†1947). The prize is endowed with a total of 80,000 Swedish kronor and will be presented in March 2022 at the Academy’s annual ceremonial meeting in Stockholm.

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