September 3, 2015
Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award 2015 Granted to Professor Petra Dittrich
Phone +49 6151 72-41002
Darmstadt, Germany, September 3, 2015 - Merck announced today that the 2015
Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science will be given to Professor Petra Dittrich from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland) for her pioneering work on immunological assays combined with microfluidic platforms for single-cell analysis. The award, which is worth € 15,000, will be presented to Professor Dittrich at Euroanalysis 2015 conference in Bordeaux (France) on September 10, 2015.
Microfluidics is a promising technology and provides a huge toolbox for analytical and bioanalytical methods in general. With respect to cell analysis, the emergence of microfluidic platforms has paved the way to novel analytical strategies for positioning, treatment and observation of living cells, for creating of chemically defined liquid environments, and for tailoring mechanical or physical conditions. These methodological improvements have revealed fascinating insights into cellular processes. In this context, the field of single-cell analysis is of particular interest, with relevance in many areas such as systems biology, medical diagnostic, pharmaceutical sciences and biotechnology.
Professor Dittrich's group introduced a method that facilitates the chemical analysis of individual cells, i.e. the quantification of intracellular compounds such as proteins and metabolites. The new method combines microfluidic cell trapping and isolation with the analytical power of immunoassays, specifically enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Single cells are captured in a defined volume as small as a few hundred
picoliters. This tiny analytical chamber is the key requirement for a highly sensitive
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detection of the target molecules directly in the cell lysate, even when present in very low copy numbers. The analytical microfluidic platform is applicable to a wide range of molecules, but also to various cell types including mammalian cells, yeast cells and bacteria and therefore expected to open new approaches for single-cell metabolomic and proteomic studies. Moreover, it is a great means to investigate cell models such as lipid vesicles.
"Petra Dittrich is a very talented and successful scientist," explained Professor Reinhard Niessner (Technical University of Munich, Germany), chairman of the international jury for the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award. "We decided to grant this award to her for her pioneering work and advances in the research field of bioanalytics."
Petra Dittrich (41) has been Associate Professor for Bioanalytics at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (ETH Zurich, Switzerland) since 2014. Her research in the field of lab-on-chip-technologies focuses on the miniaturization of high- sensitivity devices for chemical and biological analyses, and microfluidic-aided organization of materials.
German-born Dittrich studied chemistry at Bielefeld University (Germany) and Universidad de Salamanca (Spain). She earned her PhD degree at the Max Planck- Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (MPI Göttingen, Germany) in 2003 for her thesis on fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in microfluidic channels. After another year as a postdoctoral fellow at the MPI Göttingen, she had a postdoctoral appointment at the Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS Dortmund, Germany) (2004-2008). Her research stays were at Cornell University (2002) and the University of Tokyo (2005). In 2008, she became Assistant Professor at the Organic Chemistry Laboratories of the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences (ETH Zurich).
For over 25 years, the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award has been recognizing scientists under the age of 45 whose work focuses on new methods in chemical analysis and the
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development thereof in applications aimed at improving the quality of human life, for example in fields such as life science, environmental protection and the biosciences.
Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award
Merck began granting the Heinrich-Emanuel-Merck Award in 1988 to mark the centennial of the first standardization of analytical methods by Dr. Karl Krauch, a Merck chemist. This list of the prizewinners documents the significance of the prize in the analytical sciences community, which has often laid the groundwork for important discoveries.
Former Award winners of the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award are:
1988 Professor M. Hiraide, Japan; Professor O.S. Wolfbeis, Austria
1990 Dr. B. Bidlingmeyer, USA; Professor R. Niessner, Germany
1993 Professor A. Amirav, Israel
1996 Professor D.J. Harrison, Canada; Professor A. Manz, United Kingdom
1998 Professor R. Zenobi, Switzerland
2000 Professor N. Dovichi, Canada
2002 Professor J.V. Sweedler, USA
2004 Professor Y. Baba, Japan
2007 Dr. A. Makarov, Germany; Professor S. Nie, USA
2010 Professor Luisa Torsi, Italy
2012 Professor Aaron Wheeler, Canada
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€ 11.3 billion in 2014. Around 39,000 employees work for Merck in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers, and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company - since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.
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