There are trillions of microbes in the human gut which help to digest foods, protect against pathogens, and interact with the immune system. Ley demonstrated that obese people harbor an altered gut microbiome compared to slim people, and that the obese-associated microbiome can alter the host’s energy balance. Her research in twins demonstrated that certain gut microbes are partially hereditary, in particular certain kinds of bacteria enriched in the guts of lean people. By transplanting human gut microbes to germfree mice, Ley showed that an enrichment of these lean-associated microbes helped reduce fat gain.
“I am very delighted and honored to receive this prize, as it also recognizes the medical applicability of my findings from basic research which may help create new agents for targeted treatment methods,” Ruth Ley comments.
Since July 2016, Ruth Ley has been Director of the Department of Microbiome Science at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. Prestigious awards include a Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the ISME Young Investigator Award, and the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine. Ruth Ley is a member of EMBO, of the European Academy of Microbiology, and of the American Academy of Microbiology. In 2020 she was elected to the Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences.
For the first time in 1984, the Bayer Science Foundation Council has awarded the Otto Bayer Prize to scientists who have made unparalleled research contributions in innovative fields of biochemistry and chemistry. The prize is awarded to the memory of Prof. Dr. Otto Bayer, a former head of research at Bayer AG who maintained intensive contact with universities and who supported young scientists.
Prof. Dr. Ruth Ley
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
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