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BSE researcher receives top Swiss science prize

Adriano Aguzzi is researching the causes of mad cow disease (robert-koch-stiftung.de)

Zurich-based scientist Adriano Aguzzi is to receive the 2004 Marcel Benoist Prize for his work on degenerative neurological diseases.

The award is presented annually for a discovery or field of study that has made an outstanding contribution to Swiss science.

The prize will be officially handed to the 44-year-old Aguzzi at a ceremony in Zurich on November 11.

Aguzzi is a neuropathologist who has conducted research into protein-related illnesses such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – a fatal brain disorder that may be linked to the eating of cows infected with BSE, also known as mad cow’s disease.

Responding to news of the award, Aguzzi said he was grateful for the recognition but stressed that his research was “always about teamwork”.

Prize money

He added that he had not yet decided how to spend the SFr100,000 ($79,000) in prize money which comes with the award.

The Marcel Benoist Foundation said Aguzzi had been selected to receive the award in recognition of his efforts to improve understanding of CJD.

Aguzzi and his team of researchers have studied the transmission of proteins to the brain in both CJD and BSE.

The Swiss interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, congratulated Aguzzi on his award during a meeting in Bern on Monday.

In a statement, the interior ministry said his research had broadened scientific knowledge about a variety of degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Born in Italy in 1960, Aguzzi has been based at Zurich University since 1993.
He was appointed a full professor and director of the university hospital's Institute for Neuropathlogy in 1997.
In 1995 he was named director of the Swiss National Reference Center for Prion Diseases.

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In brief

Adriano Aguzzi has been rewarded for his research into Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and BSE.

His work could pave the way for the development of a vaccine for CJD.

Aguzzi has received a number of scientific awards, including the Robert Koch Prize (2003), the Ernst Jung Prize (1999) and the Pfizer Prize (1997).

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