Dr. Melina Schuh has been awarded the BINDER Innovation Prize for her research into the development of fertile egg cells in mammals.
Tuttlingen, Germany – This year's BINDER Innovation Prize from the German Society for Cell Biology (DGZ) was received by Dr. Melina Schuh of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in the German city of Göttingen for her pioneering research in the field of organismic biology into meiosis, which is the division of cells or reduction division of germ cells in mammals. The prize, which includes a 4,000 euro endowment, was awarded at the International Meeting of the DGZ on March 14 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. The BINDER Innovation Prize has been awarded annually since 1998 by the DGZ for outstanding work in basic cell biology research. The prize money is underwritten by BINDER GmbH, the world's largest specialist in simulation chambers for scientific and industrial laboratories.
Causes of miscarriage and Down syndrome
Dr. Melina Schuh and her team research how fertile egg cells develop in mammals. At a reproductive age, egg cells with a single set of chromosomes are formed from oocytes through a process of reduction division (meiosis). Errors occurring during meiosis are the most common cause of miscarriages, infertility, and a number of congenital disorders such as Down syndrome. This is why this topic is of such great medical relevance in basic research. Until recently, little was known in research about the details of cell division, especially in mammals. Dr. Melina Schuh and her team have developed a method which for the first time makes it possible to study the causes of errors in chromosome separation directly in living human egg cells and to research if precision can be increased during this separation process. In addition, the biochemist discovered that the chromosome architecture in the egg cells of older women often exhibits multiple changes. This would explain the higher number of miscarriages in older women or children born with congenital disorders by women in this age bracket.