Prof. Dr. Douglas Easton was awarded the prestigious Jakob Herz Prize 2022
The Jakob Herz Prize was awarded for the seventh time on Friday October 7, 2022. The prize is awarded together with the Research Foundation at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen every two years for outstanding scientific achievements from theoretical and clinical medicine. This year’s award winner Prof. Dr. Douglas F. Easton from Cambridge (England), received the Jakob Herz Prize in recognition of his breakthroughs in breast cancer research. Prof. Easton also unveiled a painting by the artist Ilonka Münsterer-Maar from Herzogenaurach that she painted especially for the award winner on the occasion of the award ceremony. The picture shows the hospital as it was in times gone by, together with the name giver Jakob Herz and cancer cells.After a musical introduction, Prof. Dr. Markus F. Neurath, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), welcomed the guests. He congratulated Prof. Easton on his outstanding research and recognized his achievements by awarding him the Jakob Herz Prize. FAU Vice President Research, Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, gave an insight into the work and career of Jakob Herz and emphasized the role of translational research at the university in Erlangen. The mayor of the city of Erlangen, Dr. Florian Janik, stressed once again the importance of the Jakob Herz Prize. The award combines remembrance not only of Jakob Herz but of antisemitism and the darker side of the city’s and the university’s past under the Nazi regime. The mayor sees the Jakob Herz Prize not only as an award in its own right but also as a political symbol indicating that Erlangen has learned from its past.Prof. Dr. Peter Fasching, senior physician from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen reported on the long-standing collaboration with the award winner and praised the quality of Prof. Easton’s research into determining which risk factors may increase susceptibility to breast cancer. In his speech, Prof. Easton then reported on the findings of his research and explained the risk factors for contracting breast cancer. Prof. Easton felt honored to receive the award and thanked the organizers for their recognition of his work and for the long-standing and successful collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine. In particular, he stressed the collaboration with Prof. Dr. Mathias W. Beckmann, Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen and with Prof. Fasching.The musical accompaniment for the event was provided by pianist Tobias Hartlieb on the grand piano. The guests enjoyed listening to pieces by the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Tobias Hartlieb was born in Nuremberg, and has received several awards and scholarships over the years. As well as his busy career as a freelancer, Tobias Hartlieb teaches piano at the Erlangen Institute of Music and at FAU.
About the award winner
Prof. Dr. Douglas F. Easton is Director of the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge in England. Under the direction of Prof. Easton, an international network of scientists have now succeeded in identifying the majority of the known inherited risk factors for breast cancer. Thanks to Prof. Easton’s work, several hundred gene loci have been identified that explain roughly 40% of inherited breast cancer risk factors. This laid the foundations for clinical implementation of individualized predictions of individuals’ susceptibility for breast cancer. His research is characterized by the immense opportunities afforded by extensive partnerships between scientists and data integration at an international scale. Cohorts of breast cancer patients running into the hundreds of thousands and several hundred thousand healthy individuals have been created and formed the basis for a number of pioneering analyses based on their comprehensive genotype data. Prof. Easton’s work encompasses more than 750 publications published in PubMed that have been cited more than 85,000 times and have inspired scientists across the globe. Many of these articles have been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Genetics and Science, reaching an h-index of 199.
About the Jakob Herz Prize
The award is named after Jakob Herz, the well-known doctor and researcher from Erlangen and the first Jewish professor in Bavaria. Jakob Herz was born on February 2, 1816 and died in September 1871. He dedicated his medical abilities to the citizens of Erlangen, going above and beyond what would normally be expected. The award entails prize money of 10,000 euros, donated by the Medical Research Foundation at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen.