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ETH professor Nenad Ban awarded first Max Rössler Prize


Nenad Ban from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics has become the first person to win the Max Rössler Prize. The ETH Zurich professor won the award and 200,000 Swiss francs in prize money for his outstanding teaching and research in the field of molecular structural biology.

What can you do to encourage talented professors who are just embarking on a great career in science? Recognize their work and provide ample means for them to conduct free and creative research, according to Professor Peter Chen, Vice-President of Research and Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich. These means should be assigned at a point in the researcher's career where they have the highest impact. With the Max Rössler Prize, ETH Zurich now has an ideal instrument for honoring professors and their achievements. Potential candidates are any ETH-Zurich professors who have been granted a full professorship in the last two years. Moreover, with 200,000 Swiss francs' worth of prize money, the Max Rössler Prize is one of the most highly remunerated advancement awards in Switzerland.

First winner researches giant molecules

The winner of the first Max Rössler Prize is extraordinary in many respects. 43-year-old Nenad Ben, professor of molecular structural biology at the Department of Biology, joined ETH Zurich in 2000 as an assistant professor and became full professor in 2008. Nenad Ban is being honored for his groundbreaking structural analyses of biological macromolecules, which went a long way towards explaining the subunit of a ribosome. As ribosomes play a crucial role in antibiotic resistance, this was a major step in the development of drugs.

Another giant molecule that Ban is researching is fatty acid synthase. Fatty acids are essential for life because, as part of biological membranes, they play an important role in energy storage and signal transduction. Complex protein molecules are responsible for the production of these fatty acids. The detailed structure of fatty acid synthase makes it easy for researchers to find specific weak points against fungal diseases.

Source: ETH Zürich