The CRC 1160 scientist, Dr. Maike Hofmann (A02), receives the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Since 1977, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize has been awarded annually to outstanding researchers who are in the early stages of their scientific career and do not yet hold a permanent professorship. The award serves as recognition and at the same time as an incentive to continue this career independently and purposefully. Since 1980, it has been named after the nuclear physicist and former DFG President Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, during whose term of office (1974-1979) it was first awarded. The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize is considered as the most important prize in Germany for promoting scientific personalities at an early stage in their careers.
A total of 155 researchers from all disciplines were nominated for this year’s award round. It will be awarded ten times this year and is endowed with 20,000 euros each.
In her habilitation project, M. Hofmann investigates how so-called killer cells of the human immune system control viral hepatitis. These cells are a group of white blood cells that have cell-damaging properties – and play a central role in the immune response to hepatitis viruses and liver cancer cells. Since 2019, her work has been funded by the “Margarete von Wrangell Habilitation Program for Women” of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Arts.
Most recently, M. Hofmann played a key role in two Freiburg studies on SARS-CoV-2. In their publications, the scientists were able to show that after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, immune cells are formed, so-called memory T cells, which remain in the body and could mediate a rapid immune response in the event of a renewed infection. The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine. In a second study, published in Nature, the researchers broke down when the first immune protection can be detected after a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with an mRNA-based vaccine and how the reactions of the different components of the human immune system develop over months.