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Ulrich Hartl and Peter Walter

Ulrich Hartl and Peter Walter among winners of Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Congratulations to VVPs Ulrich Hartl (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany) and Peter Walter (Altos Labs) who, along with Arthur Horwich (Yale University) and Kazutoshi Mori (Kyoto University), have been named the recipients of this year's BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology and Biomedicine. 

Peter Walter explains that this is "a pivotal award since the jury reframed the discoveries of chaperone-assisted protein folding (Hartl & Horwich) and stress pathways that regulate the cell's protein folding capacity (Mori and I). Both are complimentary advances that touch on numerous diseases and promise new treatments."
"The development of the burgeoning field of proteostasis exemplifies the value of our fundamental knowledge of how healthy cells work to our understanding of what goes wrong in aging and disease — and how to correct it. I am grateful to have been selected among this prestigious group of co-recipients. Still, as for all such awards, it's essential that we recognize the outstanding students, postdocs, collaborators, and colleagues whose cumulative contributions laid the foundation of these accomplishments."

These insights into a biological process so essential to life have enormous biomedical implications, since the molecular machinery that controls both protein folding and the response to failures in this mechanism is at the origin of multiple diseases, from cancer to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or the aging process itself. Hence the committee, in its citation, hailed the four awardees for their “groundbreaking findings,” which revealed “how cells control protein biogenesis and degradation, central not only to physiology but also disease pathogenesis and therapy.”