№ 192/2015 from Jun 24, 2015
Peter Seeberger, a director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and a professor of chemistry at Freie Universität Berlin, was elected by the British journal Medicine Maker to 7th place in its 2015 Power List. Each year the list names the 100 most influential persons in the field of drug development. Seeberger, a chemist and biochemist, is the only German among the Top 10, which is dominated by leaders from the pharmaceutical industry.
Seeberger's research provided fundamental insights into the role of complex sugars in medicine, after he succeeded in developing a sugar synthesizer as an important tool. He explains, "Based on our fundamental research, we created new vaccination approaches that were used to develop designer sugars that offer protection against bacterial infections such as those caused by hospital germs as well as other infectious diseases such as malaria."
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg, is another Max Planck scientist to be included in the list. In March 2015 Seeberger and Seidel-Morgenstern won the international Humanity in Science Award for their joint research on the production of artemisinin, currently the most effective malaria drug. Together they managed to develop a new production method to synthesize and purify the malaria medication. In the technically amazingly simple method a drug is developed from plant waste by using light and oxygen.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern points out: "The fact that we as basic researchers received this much attention from the field of applied science demonstrates the rapidly growing importance of cooperation between synthetic biochemistry and chemical engineering for practical medicine. We are the pioneers. Many others will follow."
Multiple spin-offs in the US and Germany have emerged from the labs of Seeberger, for example, ArtemiFlow GmbH in Potsdam, which produces artemisinin derivatives and will set up a production plant in Vietnam later this year. Another company in the field of vaccines is expected to be set up in the near future with a production facility in Berlin.
Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger says: "It's unusual that basic science is directly commercially viable. But now, besides the medicine, we can also make material science available. We cannot yet foresee where this development will find its limits. For me as a scientist, it is a dream that is gradually coming true."
The Medicine Maker is a journal published in the UK with global distribution. The Top 100 Power List is compiled annually in a three-step process. First readers nominate their favorites, and then a four-person panel of experts reduces the list to 100 persons. Finally, the panel puts the names in a sequence. The first 20 are published in order of rank.
Left: Prof. Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, and Professor at Freie Universität Berlin
Right: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg.