Award

Brügger lauded for quality science and outstanding productivity

She won the ASBMB's 2015 Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research
Samarpita Sengupta
By Samarpita Sengupta
March 01, 2015

Britta Brügger of Heidelberg University is the winner of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator in Lipid Research Award for her work on lipid–protein interactions and lipid sorting.

“Britta Brügger is simply a winner,” declared Vytas A. Bankaitis of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, who nominated Brügger for the award. Brügger’s work, which showed that the binding of the transmembrane domain of the p24 cargo receptor proteins to a specific molecular species of sphingomyelin is of functional significance, is “a real tour-de-force,” Bankaitis said, “that has broad implications for protein-lipid interactions in integral membrane proteins.”

brugger-web.jpg "I am thrilled and very honored to be this year's recipient of the Walter Shaw Young Investigator Award. I share this award with my co-workers in the laboratory and am grateful to my collaborators for their important contributions, helping us to study protein-lipid interactions in a truly interdisciplinary way. Many thanks also to the German Research Foundation. Without its support, this work wouldn't have been possible." — BRITTA BRÜGGER

Using quantitative lipidomic strategies, Brügger’s group has achieved several exciting new discoveries. It found that HIV-1 morphogenesis requires a specific lipid microenvironment, that p24 cargo receptors need specific lipid-protein interactions, and that sphingomyelin nanodomains exist and are defined by the interactions of specific sphingomyelin species with cholesterol. Bankaitis described Brügger’s studies as original and impactful and the result of longstanding collaborations. Not only has Brügger demonstrated excellent scholarship in her career, he said, but she also has “amply demonstrated execution of quality science and outstanding productivity.”

Brügger earned her undergraduate degree in Germany at Frankfurt University. She earned her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Felix Wieland at the Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Sloan Kettering Institute in the laboratory of James E. Rothman, Brügger returned to Germany and the lab of her graduate mentor. In 2002, she took a staff-scientist position at the Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center. In 2014, she accepted a faculty position at the Heidelberg University, and she is now a dean there.

With several publications in top-tier journals, memberships in academic societies and now awards, Brügger has left her mark in the field of lipid research already. Despite being so successful, Bankaitis said, Brügger is modest and humble. She is careful in her analysis and does not overstate her science, he added.

Bankaitis also said that, given the opportunity, he would value Brügger’s contributions to his students’ thesis committees. “I always counsel my students in the importance of choosing the right faculty for their committees, that they should choose faculty whose scientific insight they respect, that their committee members be well respected by the broader scientific community, that their committee members be available to them for scientific interaction, that their committee members be easy to interact with, and that their committee members exhibit the scientific honesty of providing the critical input needed,” he explained. “Frankly, I find faculty who fit all of these criteria to be in short supply. My opinion is that Britta Brügger is one such faculty member. As a matter of principle, is there any higher compliment one can offer a colleague than seeking his/her counsel in the training of one’s graduate students?”

Instituted in 2010, the Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator in Lipid Research Award, named after the founder of Avanti Polar Lipids, recognizes scientists with 10 or fewer years of experience who have made significant contributions to lipid research. The winner each year is invited to give a talk at the society’s annual meeting and receives a plaque and a cash prize of $2,000. Mary L. Kraft won the award last year.

 
Samarpita Sengupta
Samarpita Sengupta

Samarpita Sengupta is a scientific research writer in the neuroscience research development office at the department of neurology and neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

'Every experiment and every breakthrough matters'
Health Observance

'Every experiment and every breakthrough matters'

February 26, 2021

An interview with NYMC dean Marina K. Holz, who studies a rare disease that affects women of childbearing age.

Connecting chemistry with education
Jobs

Connecting chemistry with education

February 26, 2021

Meet Christiane Stachl, director of education, outreach and diversity at Center for Genetically Encoded Materials at UC Berkeley.

Raising awareness and funding for Pompe disease
Health Observance

Raising awareness and funding for Pompe disease

February 25, 2021

Father-turned-advocate has founded multiple organizations to support families and search for better therapies for people with rare lysosomal storage disorder.

Tributes to Barbara Gordon, ASBMB executive director, on her retirement
Stroopwafels

Tributes to Barbara Gordon, ASBMB executive director, on her retirement

February 24, 2021

Society members and former staff share their appreciation and memories of Gordon who worked at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for almost 50 years.

Booker edits new journal; Bumpus featured in virtual museum
Member News

Booker edits new journal; Bumpus featured in virtual museum

February 22, 2021

Awards, promotions, milestones and more. Find out what's going on in the lives of ASBMB members.

Remembering Kanfer and Barry
In Memoriam

Remembering Kanfer and Barry

February 22, 2021

Julian Kanfer was one of the first researchers to study the link between amyloid ß protein and Alzheimer’s disease. Bridgette Barry focused on how the dynamic protein matrix facilitates enzyme-based catalysis.