The Sobek Foundation has now honored its award winners for the years 2020 to 2022 in a joint ceremony at the Stuttgart University of Music. With the Young Investigator Award 2020, the Sobek Foundation honored the research work of PD Dr. Benjamin Knier from the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Using optical coherence tomography, Dr. Knier succeeded in demonstrating that visible changes in the retina already occur in the preliminary stages of MS, which can provide clues to the later course of the disease.
Due to the pandemic, the Roman, Marga and Mareille Sobek Foundation honored its award winners for the years 2020 to 2022 in a joint ceremony on July 29, 2022 at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule. With an endowment of 100,000 euros, the Sobek Research Prize is Europe's highest award in the field of basic research into multiple sclerosis and is awarded for a lifetime's achievement.
The 2020 Young Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Benjamin Knier from the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) for his research work. Dr. Knier has been a senior physician at the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital rechts der Isar and head of the Neuroophthalmology research group since his habilitation in 2019. Using optical coherence tomography (OCT), he succeeded in demonstrating that visible changes in the retina already occur in the preliminary stages of MS, which can provide clues to the later course of the disease.
Furthermore, Knier identified specific leukocytes in brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that can dampen the harmful activity of autoimmune B lymphocytes. Together with his colleagues, he was able to reveal the molecular and cellular processes that transform conventional leukocytes into such immunoregulatory "suppressors". Based on these findings, substances can be developed in the future that are expected to have a high therapeutic potential for the successful treatment of MS.
The Sobek Foundation awards its research prizes annually on the recommendation of a scientific advisory board. At this year's ceremony, the foundation again honored leading scientists whose research results open up new perspectives for the diagnosis and therapy of MS as an autoimmune disease. Since 2000, the Sobek Foundation has invested more than 2.8 million euros in basic MS research.
Further honored winners of the SOBEK Award 2020 to 2022
The laureate of the year 2021 is Prof. Alexander Flügel, MD, Director of the Institute of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Research at the University Medical Center Göttingen. His pioneering approaches to microscopy on living organisms (intravital microscopy) created the conditions for direct observation of autoimmunological processes in the central nervous system (CNS) in experimental disease models of MS.
The Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board had selected Prof. Alan J. Thompson of the Queen Square Institute of Neurology, Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences at University College London, as the 2020 awardee. Thompson pioneered the elucidation of the primary progressive form of MS, which is particularly severe and still has limited treatment options. He has made a decisive contribution to expanding the McDonald criteria of the various forms of MS progression, which were valid for many years, and to defining them in a way that is binding for neurologists worldwide.
The Sobek Foundation honored the research work of Prof. Dr. Anne-Katrin Pröbstel, Senior Physician in Neurology at the University Hospital Basel and Research Group Leader at the Departments of Biomedicine and Clinical Research as well as the Research Center for Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neuroscience at the University of Basel, and Prof. Dr. Lucas Schirmer, Managing Senior Physician and Head of the Section for Neuroimmunology at the Neurological University Hospital Mannheim, with junior researcher awards for the year 2022 and prize money of 15,000 euros each.
A total of 245,000 euros in prize money was awarded for clinical and experimental research in the field of multiple sclerosis.