3 July 2018

'A special honour, especially since they are two completely different awards'

Professor Albert Heck is to receive two international distinctions

Albert Heck

Albert Heck, Professor of Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, is to receive two international distinctions this summer for his work in biochemistry and mass spectrometry: the prestigious Sir Hans Krebs Medal and the Thomson Medal and Prize. 'It is a wonderful and special honour, especially since they are two completely different awards.'

First will be the Sir Hans Krebs Medal, to be presented to Heck in Prague on the 8th of July for his outstanding work in the field of biochemistry. Established in 1968 and named after the discoverer of the citric acid cycle, the medal is conferred by the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS). Heck will be joining a distinguished club of award winners, with 15 of its 45 laureates also receiving a Nobel prize. This occasion marks the first time that the Sir Hans Krebs Medal will be awarded to a Dutch scientist.

The Thomson Medal and Prize will be presented at the end of August in Florence. This award, named for the discoverer of the electron, is presented biennially in recognition of distinguished research in atomic or molecular physics. Albert Heck is the second Dutch scientist to receive the award after Nico Nibbering, who incidentally served as Heck's PhD supervisor.

Unique combination of specialisations

Albert Heck and his research group have risen to the top of their field internationally thanks to their unique combination of specialisations. Heck himself combines two areas of expertise: technical and methodological aspects of mass spectrometry on the one hand (used to characterise and sequence proteins, among other things) as well as molecular and cellular research into how proteins interact with each other.

Recognition of the cross-disciplinary work

This diversity is reflected in the two awards that he has won. 'I am delighted', says Heck, 'especially since they are two completely different awards. The Sir Hans Krebs Medal is for biologists and biochemists, whereas the Thomson Medal and Prize is reserved for physicists and analytical chemists. Although you are obviously not in science for the awards, winning these two prestigious prizes back to back is a wonderful and special honour in recognition of the cross-disciplinary work our group is doing in Utrecht.'

Previous international prizes

The Sir Hans Krebs Medal and the Thomson Medal are not the first (prestigious) international prizes for Albert Heck. In 2015 he received the American Chemical Society ‘Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievements in Mass Spectrometry', in 2014 the European Proteomics Pioneer Award and in 2013 the ‘Discovery Award in Proteomic Sciences’.