Professor Stefan Hell wins Hansen Family Award 2011

Honoured for his work in the field of light microscopy

Bayer Science & Education Foundation and the Scientific Committee for the Hansen Family Award 2011 have presented Professor Stefan Hell with the €75,000 prize in acknowledgement of his work in the field of light microscopy.

The discoveries made by Hell, who conducts research work at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, led to a new class of light microscopes that can probe far deeper into the molecular scale of life.

The Hansen Family Award is regarded as one of the most prestigious and coveted prizes for natural scientists in Germany.

Bayer’s chairman Marijn Dekkers will officially present the award to Professor Hell at a ceremony in Berlin on 15 March 2011.

The Hansen Family Award honours scientists who have made pioneering research contributions in biology and medicine. It has been presented since 2000 in memory of its endower Professor Kurt Hansen. The late former chairman of Bayer established the award in 1999 out of ‘gratitude for a fulfilled life as a natural scientist and business manager’.

With his invention and development of Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy, Hell revolutionised fluorescence microscopy, which plays a key role in biology and fundamental medical research today. The 47-year-old physicist was the first person to find a way of radically overcoming the light microscope’s resolution barrier of 200nm as established by Ernst Abbe in 1873. STED microscopy and related processes now enable up to 10 times greater detail in cells, something that was previously deemed impossible.

The Bayer Science & Education Foundation awards the Hansen Family Award prize. The primary objectives of the foundation are the recognition of outstanding research achievements, the promotion of talented scientists and support for significant school projects of a scientific nature.

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