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Günther Schütz Symposium: Remembering an outstanding scientist

No. 31 | 19/05/2022 | by Koh

With a scientific symposium, the German Cancer Research Center honors Günther Schütz, a great scientist and highly respected former colleague who died two years ago at the age of 80. Günther Schütz wrote textbook knowledge with his research. His former colleagues, scientific companions and family will commemorate an outstanding research personality with the symposium on May 19 and 20.

Günther Schütz
© DKFZ/Schwerdt

They will travel from Europe, the USA and even from Saudi Arabia, China and Australia or connect virtually: former colleagues and close cooperation partners of Günther Schütz will come together on May 19 and 20 at the DKFZ for a scientific exchange and celebrating the scientific life and legacy of Günther Schütz. Building on the scientific, ethical and personal skills earned in his lab, numerous former PhD students or postdocs from his laboratory have moved into leading positions at world-renowned research institutes and the industry. At the meeting, they will provide insights into their current work, highlighting the immense impact that Günther Schütz's research has had on a broad spectrum of the life sciences.

"Few scientists in the world can boast a research and publication record comparable to that of Günther Schütz," says Michael Baumann, Chairman of the DKFZ. "He played a major role in enabling the DKFZ to build and consolidate an excellent scientific reputation."

From 1980 to 2008, Günther Schütz headed the "Molecular Biology of the Cell I" division at the DKFZ. Upon reaching retirement age in 2008, he assumed a Helmholtz Senior Professorship, which he held until the end of 2015. Günther Schütz's research throughout his career revolved around one question: How do steroid hormones and their receptors control the activity of genes and how do they thus influence the development of organisms? In this field, he was considered one of the leading international figures.

Always working on the forefront of technological breakthroughs, many of Günther Schütz's research results have already found their way into the textbooks of molecular and cell biology: In his earlier years, Schütz and his colleagues elucidated molecular mechanisms underlying gene regulation by hormones. When his lab refined technologies to selectively inactivate any chosen gene in any desired cell, Schütz and his colleagues were guided in new scientific areas where they also left a deep footprint. They investigated the molecular basis of learning and memory, drug addiction and identified key molecules responsible for the development of brain tumors.

Throughout his 50-year in sciences, Günther Schütz was an enthusiastic and inspiring academic teacher and mentor for more than one generation of young scientists. He was committed to being a generous sponsor: , accompanying and supporting young talents on their way to achieving scientific independence was both an obligation and a pleasure for him. In recognition of his inspirational mentoring, the Schütz family, with support of former collaborators, colleagues, and friends of Günther Schütz, have decided to inaugurate a Günther Schütz Award. Beginning in 2023, the Günther Schütz Award, which is endowed with 3.000 euros, will be awarded annually to young scientists from the DKFZ or the University of Heidelberg who have distinguished themselves in the field of biomedicine and basic molecular research through outstanding publications. The annual award ceremony will be generously supported by the Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation whose mission also is dedicated to furthering the careers of junior scientists working in the field of biomedicine in Heidelberg.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Cancer Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

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