OREANDA-NEWS. The second winner of the Bayer Thrombosis Research Award has been chosen: the Scientific Committee of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation has awarded the EUR 30,000 prize to Dr. Markus Bender in recognition of his work on Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Dr. Bender showed that the severe blood clotting and immune system disorders in patients suffering from this condition are attributable to a deficiency of the cytoskeleton-stabilizing protein profilin-1 in the precursor cells of blood platelets. This could open up new opportunities for the early detection and treatment of this severe illness in future.

The Thrombosis Research Award has honored aspiring up-and-coming researchers for outstanding achievements in the field of pure and clinical research into thrombosis since 2013. It was established in 2011 by the Bayer scientists Dr. Frank Misselwitz, Dr. Dagmar Kubitza and Dr. Elizabeth Perzborn, who won the German Future Prize in 2009 for developing the anticoagulant Xarelto®.

“Advances in science, both at universities and research institutes and in industry, are society’s investment in the future. We want to boost research and promote excellence,” said Kemal Malik, member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for Innovation and Chairman of the Foundation. “Bayer is working to discover and develop new treatment options for diseases for which there is a high level of medical need. It is therefore also very important for us to support pioneering achievements in pure medical research. In addition, through its foundations and particularly through the awarding of this prize, Bayer wants to increase appreciation for top-level research and medical progress,” continued Malik. It was these considerations that led the three Bayer researchers to donate the EUR 250,000 prize money for winning the German Future Prize to establish this award for up-and-coming researchers. Bayer doubled this initial funding to EUR 500,000.

Said Dr. Frank Misselwitz, prize sponsor and Head of the Cardiovascular and Coagulation Therapeutic Area in Bayer’s Clinical Research, “Markus Bender is a talented researcher whose work stands out from that of the many other nominees. It combines pure research at the molecular level of cytoskeleton stabilization in blood cells with key clinical issues at the interface of coagulation and immunology, and comes to surprising and fundamentally significant conclusions. In view of his outstanding scientific work, Dr. Bender is most particularly deserving of this award.”

With the exception of the prize sponsors themselves, the scientific judging panel for the new award is made up exclusively of experts from universities and hospitals all over Germany: Professor Michael B?hm (Saarland University Hospital), Professor Andreas Greinacher (Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Hospital, Greifswald), Professor Edelgard Lindhoff-Last (CCB – Cardiovascular Center Bethanien, Frankfurt-on-Main), Professor Bernhard Nieswandt (Rudolph Virchow Center at the University of W?rzburg), Professor Sebastian Schellong (Dresden-Friedrichstadt Hospital) and Professor Christoph Bode (Freiburg-im-Breisgau University Hospital).

The prize is awarded by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The overriding aims of this foundation are to recognize outstanding research achievements, promote scientific talent and support key natural science projects in schools. In terms of contents, the focus of its sponsorship activities is on natural sciences and medicine. Outstanding research achievements are honored by the Foundation in alternate years with the Hansen Family Prize and the Otto Bayer Prize, both of which are endowed with EUR 75,000. Two prizes for aspiring up-and-coming researchers complete the program: the international Early Excellence in Science Award is presented annually in the categories biology, chemistry and medicine, each with prize money of EUR 10,000. The Bayer Thrombosis Research Award, presented every two years with prize money of EUR 30,000, supports scientists in German-speaking countries whose work focuses in particular on pure and clinical research into thrombosis.

The winner of the award, Dr. Markus Bender (35), studied biomedicine at Julius Maximilian University, W?rzburg. He then studied for a doctorate at W?rzburg Graduate School of Life Sciences, which is supported by Germany’s Excellence Initiative at federal and state level. The subject of his doctoral thesis was “Investigation of cytoskeleton dynamics and receptor regulation in blood platelets of genetically modified mice.” He received his doctorate in 2010 from the Faculty of Experimental Biomedicine, Rudolf Virchow Center and W?rzburg University Hospital, under Professor Bernhard Nieswandt. In 2012, Dr. Bender was awarded a research grant by the German Research Association (DFG) and for this project he worked under Professor John H. Hartwig at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA). The subject of his research there was “Investigation of the role of cytoskeleton proteins in megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis.” Since 2014, Dr. Bender has been working on “Investigation of the role of microtubule-regulating and actin filament-regulating proteins in megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis” at the Faculty of Experimental Biomedicine in W?rzburg. In this project, he is supported by a DFG grant for scientists returning from abroad. In W?rzburg, Dr. Bender is associated with special research project 688 entitled “Mechanisms and imaging of cell-cell interactions in the cardiovascular system.” Dr. Bender had previously been honored for his research with the Young Talent Award from the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis in 2009.