Dr. Susanne Höing receives the MTZ®-MPI Award 2013

On November 14th 2013, the MTZ®foundation will honour Dr. Susanne Höing for her outstanding dissertation. Susanne Höing received her doctoral degree in December 2012 with Professor Dr. Hans Schöler with her dissertation entitled "Phenotypic Screening for Neurodegenerative Diseases Using Mouse and Human Stem Cells". Since 2009, the MTZ®foundation endows a young scientist at the MPI for Molecular Biomedicine with the MTZ®-MPI-Award on a yearly basis. In this way, the founding couple Monika and Thomas Zimmermann wants to foster young persons in their scientific career. The award prize is endowed with 2,500 Euros.

During her doctoral studies, Susanne Höing has established a stem cell-based test assay for the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is an incurable, degenerative disorder of the motor nervous system. For unknown reasons, neurons that are responsible for muscle movement (motoneurons) die. Because of the degeneration of the motoneurons, muscle weakness is progressing and this will finally lead to death. As the cause of ALS is not known, it is impossible to specifically develop drugs against this disease. Diseases such as ALS can, however, benefit from stem cell-based assays: Höing has put together three different cell types in such a combination that they mirror the disease in a reproducible way.Motoneuronas as the nerve cells that direct muscle movement and that die in ALS, astrocytes that are supportive cells and microglial cells that attack motoneurons after stimulation. "For the application in a compound testing assay we have screened approximately 11,000 compounds, of which 37 were protective to the ALS-affected neurons", says Höing. "These results are important in two aspects: on one side, the assay with stem cells enables new ways in drug development. On the other side, the discovered compound may be a protective in other neurodegenerative disorders", explaines Höing.

The high level of innovation of Höing's work is for example shown by the fact that she was invited for the symposium "Falling Walls", which was held in Berlin on November 8th, 2012. Susanne Höing (33) completed her education as medical technical laboratory assistent in 2001. After one year in this profession, she commenced her studies of Molecular Biology in Münster. In 2007, after her studies, she started a PhD position with Professor Dr. Hans Schöler at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine. She is now continuing her works on stem cell-based assays as a postdoc.

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