Thomas Boehm is awarded the prestigious Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine

The Jung Stiftung awards Prof. Dr. Thomas Boehm, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany, the Ernst-Jung Prize for Medicine 2014.

January 08, 2014

The “immunologist of high international standing” receives the award for his “groundbreaking research on development, differentiation and evolution of central elements of the immune system,” the foundation said in today´s press release. The award consists of 300.000 Euro, making this endowment one of the largest in Europe. It will be presented at a special ceremony on May 16, 2014. Unlike in previous years, in 2014 the foundation selected only one winner, highlighting the significance of Boehm’s achievements.

The life-time achievement award (The Ernst Jung Gold Medal) goes to the internationally renowned molecular biologist Charles Weissmann, Jupiter, USA; the physician Thomas Schmidt, Heidelberg, Germany, is awarded the Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research.

Research on gene level, because it enables us to look at the whole person – this unusual formula shows what is at the heart of the successful work carried out by this year's recipient of the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine. "Coming into direct contact with patients suffering from severe and often incurable diseases made me want to focus on basic research into pressing but unsolved medical problems,” explains Professor Thomas Boehm.

Boehm has made groundbreaking discoveries about the immune system and in particular about the thymus, a central organ for the correct development of immune cells and for the prevention of autoimmune diseases. He and his co-workers identified the molecular basis of various immunodeficiency diseases and demonstrated how such defects might be, at least partially, compensated. This work led, for example, to the generation of artificial thymus tissue. These advances raise hope for the long-term development of new diagnostic methods and treatment approaches of (auto-) immune diseases.

Thomas Boehm began his medical career by studying human medicine at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, along with study visits to the Columbia University in New York and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Professor Boehm graduated in Frankfurt in 1982, where he also qualified as a university lecturer in 1988. A five-year stint at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge was followed by a C3-professorship for Medical Molecular Biology at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg and a C4-professorship for experimental therapy at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Since January 1998, Professor Boehm has been director of the Immune System Development field of work at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg and honorary professor at the medical faculty of the local university. Thomas Boehm is a member of several learned societies, including the German Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he was awarded the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize.

The family man balances out his research on a global level with artistic and practical activities: he loves music and manual work and has a particular passion for carpentry. And his activities in these fields are also certain to define what he describes as the most important challenge when issuing medical treatment: "combining human warmth with professional expertise".

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