Pioneer in the protein crystallography field is awarded the Aminoff Prize 2008

The Aminoff Prize in crystallography 2008 is awarded to Hans Eklund, “for his crystallographic studies of ribonucleotide reductase. The studies contribute to a detailed understanding of function and activity of an enzyme with a central biological role”.

Professor Hans Eklund is a structural biologist and prominent researcher in protein crystallography, a method that has been greatly improved during the past couple of decades. Eklund has determined the structure of a number of enzymes that are important in cancer research and environmentally friendly degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons, which are used in solvents and for production of plastics, dyes and pharmaceuticals.

An enzyme that may have a significant role in cancer research is ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). The “blueprint” for the construction of cells can be found in the cell nucleus, and this blueprint is essential for the formation of new cells. The four building blocks that make up DNA are synthesized from corresponding RNA building blocks with the help of the enzyme RNR. The phase of the cell cycle where DNA is duplicated is also the phase when RNR is most active. This chemical activity is present in all living organisms and is believed to be an important step in the early evolution.

Three different classes of RNR are known, which all contribute to the reduction of an RNA building block to a DNA building block through a mechanism where a free radical partakes. The three enzyme classes are related, but are very different in their respective sequence and structure.

The Prize is awarded at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on the 11th of June, 2008. In connection with the prize ceremony there will be an Aminoff symposium in structural biology.

The Prize amount: SEK 100 000.

Hans Eklund, Swedish citizen. Born 1940. Doctor of Philosophy in 1976. Professor emeritus in Structural Biology, Department of Molecular Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala Biomedical Centre (BMC), Uppsala, Sweden.

The Gregori Aminoff Prize
The Aminoff Prize is intended to reward a documented, individual contribution in the field of crystallography, including areas concerned with the dynamics of the formation and determination of crystal structures. Some preference should be shown for work evincing elegance in the approach to the problem. The prize may be awarded either to an individual Swedish or foreign researcher, or to a joint research group of no more than three persons. The Aminoff Prize was awarded for the first time in 1979.