It is with great pleasure to announce that EAM fellow Jörg Hacker has being awarded the Robert Koch Medal in Gold for his life achievements.
This is a annual award in recognition of the outstanding life’s work of a scientist. Indeed, two EAM fellows have received this award in the past: Hans-Dieter Klenk (2006) and Staffan Normark (2018).
Jörg Hacker is “not only an outstanding scientist,” the then Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt, said of him in 2008. “He knows how to share his findings with others and to communicate science in a way that people outside his field can understand.”
Jörg Hacker is a pioneer in molecular infection research. In 1983, he described the so-called “pathogenicity islands” of bacteria, genetic elements that contain several genes that can, for example, trigger a disease in us in a coordinated manner. These genetic elements are only loosely anchored in the genome of bacteria, or they are even passed on separately. They can be easily exchanged between bacteria. Thus, harmless bacteria can very quickly evolve into dangerous pathogens. Or bacteria can exchange genes that make them resistant to antibiotics. Through his research, Jörg Hacker has made a decisive contribution to understanding the evolution of microbial pathogens.
After studying in Halle, Jörg Hacker worked at the University of Würzburg from 1980, and from 1993 as head of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology. From 2008 to 2010 he was president of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, and from 2010 to 2020 president of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Under his aegis, the Leopoldina evolved into the German Academy of Science, the national, independent advisory body it is today. In his many roles as a shaper of science, Jörg Hacker has made a unique contribution to the development of the framework conditions for research in Germany.”