On hearing the news of the honour, Uhlmann said: “I am absolutely delighted by this award. So many researchers work hard to contribute to our molecular knowledge of cells and organisms. It has been fantastic to find myself doing research in this exciting environment. I very much enjoy participating in European science at many levels, so to get this recognition from EMBO makes me particularly happy.”
Uhlmann combined novel techniques in biochemistry, cell biology and genetics to uncover the trigger for one of the most significant events in the life of eukaryotic cells – mitosis, the process whereby cells divide and split their duplicated genomes between two daughter cells. He found that a protein, now called “separase”, cuts cohesive links between the duplicated chromosomes, triggering their movement towards the daughter cells.
Unravelling mechanisms like these is the key to understanding how mistakes in mitosis can lead to cancer – knowledge that could eventually lead to the development of new strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Uhlmann has continued to put these qualities to good use since joining the London Research Institute in 2000. As Head of the Chromosome Segregation Laboratory, he has built on his earlier discoveries – defining modes of separase regulation and uncovering other ways in which the protein orchestrates intricate processes during mitosis and ensures that separated chromosomes move away from each other successfully. His group has also gone on to decipher the role of another crucial protein, called “cohesin”, on a genome-wide scale.
MEDICA.de; Source: Cancer Research UK