2001 Award Winner Dr. Andreas Mayer Friedrich-Miescher Laboratory of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Tübingen, Germany

The work of Dr. Andreas Mayer
Dr. Andreas Mayer receives this award for his original and pioneering work into the dynamics of events within cells. In particular, this involves the maintenance and creation of cell organelles. His work has the greatest relevance to our understanding of cell division and of the modus operandi of hormones and neurotransmitters. In concrete terms, his work involves cell membranes, in other words the sheaths which surround all our cells and which are also located within cells in the form of constituent parts of so-called cell organelles. These organelles are constantly throwing out small packs of membrane-enveloped particles, also called vesicles, which then fuse with other organelles or with the external membrane and release their contents. Dr. Mayer and his team succeeded for the first time in determining numerous protein and lipid components involved in fusion reactions. He was also able to show that the fusion components found in the yeast system used as a model were preserved in evolution. His results are therefore directly transferable to mammalian systems, to the release of neurotransmitters, for example. For the first time, the way is paved for an accurate understanding of cell and cell organelle fusion, one of the most important processes in living cells.