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Award of the Ferdinand Cohn Medal to Axel Brakhage

Prof Dr Axel Brakhage (left) and DGHM President and laudator Prof Dr Jan Buer (right). (Source: Conventus)
Prof Dr Axel Brakhage (left) and DGHM President and laudator Prof Dr Jan Buer (right). (Source: Conventus)

Award honours the microbiologist for outstanding achievements in the research of human pathogenic fungi

This year, the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) has awarded a Ferdinand Cohn Medal to Prof Dr Axel Brakhage, founding member of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Balance of the Microverse’ and Director of the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI). The award recognises his outstanding scientific achievements in the field of microbiology, in particular for the infection biology of fungi and his merits in developing Jena into one of the world's leading centres for the infection biology of fungi. The award ceremony took place during the DGHM annual conference on 2 June 2024 in Würzburg.

Axel Brakhage's research focuses on the infection biology of human pathogenic fungi, in particular the globally widespread mould Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause fatal lung infections, especially in immunocompromised individuals. He made groundbreaking discoveries that contributed significantly to the development of the field of research and formed the basis for improving the diagnosis and treatment of the life-threatening diseases caused by the fungus. His work on this core topic also led him to neighbouring scientific fields in which he made equally important, internationally recognised contributions. He is dedicated to microbial communication and functional microbiome research. He hopes to use the knowledge gained to better understand the fundamental mechanisms of the dynamics of complex biotic communities, as they have a huge impact on the entire living environment, including human life. Finally, building on this, he also professionalised the search for antimicrobial agents from microorganisms in the academic field. New drugs developed from this are urgently needed in view of new infectious diseases and increasing antibiotic resistance. Brakhage is also working at a political level to ensure that the development of new active substances that could also arm us against the next pandemic becomes part of public healthcare and is not left to the free play of the market alone.

The Ferdinand-Cohn-Medal has been awarded by the DGHM since 1998 to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to microbiology and hygiene. The list of previous recipients includes renowned researchers who have made significant progress in these fields through their work. The medal was established in honour of Ferdinand Cohn, the founder of systematic bacteriology and discoverer of bacterial endospores.

For more information, please visit the DGHM website: DGHM Foundation - Ferdinand Cohn Medal (DGHM).