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€10,000 award for FAU researcher

prof-voehringer Foto: privat

Prof. Dr. David. Vöhringer’s research focuses on a type of white blood cell which plays an important role in the development of allergies. (Photo: private)

The Paul Ehrlich Institute and the town of Langen honour Professor David Vöhringer

On Friday 18 November 2011, Prof. Dr. David Vöhringer (41), Professor of Infection Resistance and Tolerance at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and head of the Infection Biology Department at Erlangen University Hospital, was awarded the Langen Science Prize. The award which is endowed with €10,000 is presented to young researchers every two years by the Paul Ehrlich Institute – the German Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines –, the town of Langen and Langen public services. Professor Vöhringer has been honoured with the award for his comprehensive research on granulocytes, a cell type which had already aroused Paul Ehrlich’s interest.

Granulocytes are a category of white blood cells and are important players in the immune system. Around 130 years ago, Paul Ehrlich was able to differentiate two types of granulocytes using the staining technique whereby he recognised various structures and broke them down into two groups of granulocytes – “eosinophils” and “basophils”. Today, scientists know that these cells are responsible for type II immune responses which play an important role in the defence against parasites and in the development of allergies.

FAU professor David Vöhringer is researching the fundamental mechanisms of these immune responses. Over the course of his research he was able to reveal, inter alia, that basophil granulocytes play a pivotal role in chronic allergic inflammations of the skin: if the body does not produce basophil granulocytes there is no inflammatory response. Vöhringer now plans further research to investigate the function of basophils in more detail and to identify the factors responsible for inflammation. His further objective is to prevent allergic reactions entirely, via targeted intervention in the immunological memory of cells.

“David Vöhringer’s findings are an important step towards gaining a better insight into the processes which lead to allergies and thereby towards finding new therapies for their treatment”, says Professor Klaus Cichutek, president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. Around 15 per cent of people from industrialised countries suffer from allergies and the number of sufferers is constantly rising.

About the person: David Vöhringer
David Vöhringer initially studied biology in Tübingen and then later at the Universität Freiburg where he earned his doctorate in 2001. Thereafter he worked as a postdoc in the Department for Infectious Diseases at the University of California’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute in San Francisco. From October 2005, David Vöhringer headed up a group of Emmy Noether junior researchers from the German Research Foundation at Universität München’s Institute of Immunology. In October 2010, Vöhringer was appointed Professor of Infection Resistance and Tolerance at the FAU and since then has been head of the Infection Biology Department at Erlangen University Hospital’s Microbiology Institute.

Further information for the media:

Prof. Dr. David Vöhringer
Tel.: 09131/85-32735
David.Voehringer@uk-erlangen.de

uni | media service | research No. 54/2011 on 18.11.2011

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