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21.02.2011 12:10

Thomas Lengauer receives the AIDS Research Award by the Heinz-Ansmann Foundation

Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf Pressestelle der Universität des Saarlandes
Universität des Saarlandes

    Professor Thomas Lengauer, computational biologist at Saarland University and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics has received the AIDS Research Award 2010 by the Heinz-Ansmann Foundation. Lengauer shares this award with Dr. Rolf Kaiser from the Institute of Virology at Cologne University and with Dr. Mark Oette from the Hospital of the Augustinerinnen, Cologne. The award commends work of an interdisciplinary team that the three award winners have led in the last ten years and that has collected the data and developed the bioinformatical methods for analyzing resistance of HIV against a suite of antiviral drugs.

    Thormas Lengauer is the first recipient of the award outside virology and medicine. Under his direction the Max Planck Institute has developed software that mines the collected clinical and virological data to suggest patient-specific drug combinations. The software is freely accessible over the internet ( It estimates the level of rsistance of a patient-specific virus population against each of a sizeable number of drugs and ranks drug combinations with respect to their estimated probability of therapy success. Different patients harbor different virus populations which exhibit different levels of resistance against antiviral drugs. World-wide the geno2pheno server has received well over 250,000 queries.

    The basis of this novel approach towards analyzing viral resistance are mathematical models that extract hidden patterns and correlations from the collected data. This systematic approach is an essential alternative to the classical approach to resistance analysis which is based on clinical expertise alone. “In comparative studies it could be shown that the mathematical approach outperforms an analysis based on expert knowledge as soon as data are available in sufficient quantity and quality” says Lengauer.

    Among other things, the results of the study by Lengauer, Kaiser and Oette provides the basis for the German-Austrian guidelines for treating AIDS patients and has enabled standardized resistance testing accompanying anti-HIV therapy. Thereby Lengauer, Kaiser and Oette have transferred insights from basic research directly into clinical practice.

    The Heinz-Ansmann Award for AIDS Research is endowed with € 15,000. It has been conferred about every two years since the last decade of the last century. Donor ist the Heinz-Ansmann Foundation in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the last two decades Thomas Lengauer played an essential role in building up the field of Bioinformatics in Germany and beyond. For his contributions to the field he has previously been awarded the Konrad Zuse Medal by the German Informatics Society and the Karl-Heinz Beckurts Award.

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