2004: Prof. Raphael Mechoulam

Heinrich Wieland Prize 2004 for research into the role of endocannobinoids in neuronal communication in the brain

Ingelheim/Germany, 12 November 2004 - The Heinrich Wieland Prize has been jointly awarded to Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Prof. Roger Nicoll the University of California, San Francisco for their research into cannabis and endocannobinoids. Prof. Nepomuk Zoellner, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Heinrich Wieland Prize, presented the prize at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich today. The scientists jointly received € 25,000 for their research.

The Heinrich Wieland Prize meanwhile looking back to a forty year history is an annual award for innovative research in the fields of biochemistry, chemistry and physiology of lipids and related substances. It is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

This year’s winners established the role of lipids as neurotransmitters. These findings are noteworthy because they give further insight into the communication between neurons in the brain, an insight that may aid the development of new therapies in the fields of appetite regulation, inflammation and neuroprotection.

"Promoting innovation is one of our company’s key principles," said Dr Andreas Barner, Member of the Board of Managing Directors and Head of Research, Development and Medicine at Boehringer Ingelheim. "As Boehringer Ingelheim aims to research better therapy options and to offer innovative medications to patients, we are delighted to foster innovative thinking and pioneering research that may lead to new therapies with an award like this."

"Presenting this award to the research community emphasizes our great interest and support for research in new basic physiological mechanisms which might provide a starting point for finding novel medicines" added Prof. Dieter Hinzen, Head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s largest R&D Center in Biberach, Germany.

"Our research proves that the brain synthesizes small, lipid constituents, also called endocanabinoids, binding to cannabinoid receptors and thus transmits signals between neurons in the brain," said Prof. Mechoulam. Prof. Nicoll added: "The endocannabinoids mediate a most unusual form of signalling in the brain as the neurons use the endocannabinoids to control their own activitation." - "We are very pleased that our scientific discoveries have been recognized with the Heinrich Wieland Prize and hope that further research will reveal how cannabonoids may be used on a cellular and a network level," stated Prof. Mechoulam and Prof. Nicoll.

Boehringer Ingelheim

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 144 affiliates in 45 countries and nearly 36,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

In 2004, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of 8.2 billion euro while spending nearly one fifth of net sales in its largest business segment Prescription Medicines on research and development.

Contact

Dr. Anja Hoffmann
Heinrich Wieland Prize

Boehringer Ingelheim Foundations
Schusterstr. 46-48
55116 Mainz/Germany

Tel. +49 (0)6131 / 27 50 815
hwp@boehringer-ingelheim-stiftung.de

Kirsten Achenbach
Communications

Boehringer Ingelheim Foundations
Schusterstr. 46-48
55116 Mainz/Germany

Tel. +49 (0)6131 / 27 50 816
kirsten.achenbach@bifonds.de

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