This year’s crystallography prize awarded to a world-leading protein researcher

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography 2018 to Professor Piet Gros from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, “for his fundamental contributions to understanding the structural basis for the complement system-mediated innate immune response”. The prize amount is SEK 100,000.

Piet Gros, Utrecht Universitet, Nederländerna. Photo: NWO.

The complement system, which is part of our immune system, plays an important role in the body’s defences against bacteria and viruses. This year’s Laureate has made revolutionary discoveries in this field.

When the complement system is activated, more than 30 different proteins interact in a highly intricate cascade-like manner. Professor Piet Gros has succeeded in producing crystals from many complement proteins and determining their three-dimensional structures. He has also studied the complicated protein complexes formed by these proteins and succeeded in clarifying their three-dimensional structures. Through his research, Piet Gros has been able to describe in detail the molecular mechanisms that lead to the activation of the complement system and which explain this protein system’s effects on the immune system.

Congenital and acquired defects in the complement system have recently proven to be the cause of many different medical conditions, so detailed knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that are part of the complement system is therefore vital.

Piet Gros’ research is potentially of significant medical importance; the structural information that has been produced is a foundation for the development of new treatments for various autoimmune, inflammatory and degenerative diseases.

Piet Gros’ research group has been world-leading in this field and is responsible for most of the structural knowledge of this important and complex protein system.

The Prize Ceremony will be held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Annual Meeting on 13 April 2018.

The Prize Lecture will be held on 12 April, at Lund University, Skåne University Hospital in Malmö. 

The Laureate
Piet Gros was born in 1962. He received his PhD in 1990 from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. After several years of postdoc studies at ETH Zürich in Switzerland and at Yale University in the USA, in 1994 he returned to The Netherlands and founded a research group at Utrecht University. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been the recipient of numerous highly regarded scientific prizes, including an ERC Advanced Grant and the Spinoza Prize.

The Gregory Aminoff Prize
The Gregory Aminoff Prize rewards a documented individual contribution to the field of crystallography, including areas relating to the dynamics of crystal structures’ formation and dissolution. Some preference shall be given to work that demonstrates elegance in its approach to the problem.

The Prize has been awarded since 1979 and is primarily awarded to a Swedish or foreign researcher, otherwise to a research group that consists of no more than three people.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography every year. Crystallography is the study of atomic structures in solid material in order to precisely determine where the atoms are located in a molecule. Crystallography is used in chemistry, biology, medicine, geology and materials science.