31. January 2024

Wilhelm Exner Medal 2024 goes to…

We are delighted to announce that two outstanding researchers, Ferdi Schüth and Giulio Superti-Furga, have once again been awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal this year. Our warmest congratulations.

Giulio Superti-Furga

Giulio Superti-Furga is an exceptional scientist and leader. Trained in molecular biology by the Exner Medal winners Max Birnstiel and Charles Weissmann and the Wittgenstein Prize winner Meinrad Busslinger in Zurich and Vienna, he has developed an extraordinarily creative line of research that dares to break new ground and open up new areas. His research covers an extraordinarily broad spectrum of topics.

Without him we would
a) not appreciate the organisation of the eukaryotic proteome as much as we do;
b) not have understood the importance of intramolecular regulation of tyrosine kinases;
c) have not identified the nature of many key players in innate immunity and oncology (LZTR1, IFIT1, AIM2, TASL, MTH1); and
d) do not appreciate the importance of membrane transporters in human pathophysiology.

Most importantly, his impact is multiplied by the leaders he has trained, the companies he has founded, the tools he has made available to the community (e.g. the empowerment of the international membrane transporter community through Resolute; re-solute.eu), the transdisciplinary discourses he has initiated (Brain Lounge meetings) and the example he has set (e.g. the first non-anonymised complete genome in the EU for educational purposes).

To summarise, Superti-Furga has made a huge scientific, social, cultural and economic impact, which makes him an ideal candidate for the Wihelm Exner Medal.

Ferdi Schüth

Ferdi Schüth is an internationally recognised chemist working in the fields of heterogeneous catalysis and sustainable chemistry/energy conversion. He has made ground-breaking and award-winning discoveries in three areas that are of high economic relevance:
(i) nanostructured catalysts with controlled porosity for various applications, such as biomass conversion, methane activation and fuel cell catalysis.
(ii) High throughput experiments (HTE) in catalysis, and
(iii) Mechanocatalysis of gas phase reactions. In addition, his CV clearly shows his entrepreneurial spirit, as described below:

Ferdi Schüth’s scientific success throughout his career becomes clear when reading his publications, which are rarely routine. On the contrary, they often open up new avenues of research that others follow. This is also reflected in his citation statistics: his H-index is 114, his citation count is approaching 55,000. The practical relevance – beyond the points mentioned above – is also clear from his inventorship of around 40 patent families.

The science system as a whole is also close to his heart, and in his leadership roles in the science system, technology transfer and relations between science and industry have always been at the top of his agenda. He was Vice President of the DFG from 2008 to 2015 and of the Max Planck Society from 2014 to 2020. In the latter role in particular, he was responsible for Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organisation of the Max Planck Society. In addition, he was instrumental in founding the so-called Cyber Valley in the Stuttgart/Tübingen area, in which Max Planck Institutes, universities and industrial companies jointly promote robotics and artificial intelligence, which is documented in many speeches by the then Max Planck President Martin Stratmann. He was also Chairman of the Investment Committee of the High-Tech Gründerfonds, a public-private venture capital fund for start-up investments in high-tech companies, for 15 years.