Honorary Degree citation: Professor Matthias Hentze MD

13 December 2017

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, Professor Matthias Hentze MD.

Professor Hentze is a world-leading biomedical researcher, working in the fields of cell biology and genetics. He is an early pioneer of RNA research.

His contributions to translational control are now enshrined in all leading textbooks of biochemistry and molecular cell biology.

His recent work, in collaboration with Australian scientists, has led to the discovery of hundreds of new RNA-binding proteins involved in gene regulation.

These discoveries foreshadow a new phase in our understanding of genome function through RNA and how numerous biological processes are affected by unexpected interactions between proteins and RNA.

In 2013 Professor Hentze was appointed Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, one of the premier biology research centres in the world, and an official strategic partner of Australian science.

He is also Professor of Molecular Medicine at Heidelberg University.

He has received numerous prestigious research awards, including Germany's highest research honour, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, in 2000.

Professor Hentze studied medicine in the United Kingdom and Germany and qualified in 1984.

In the same year, he was awarded a Doctor of Medicine for his postgraduate research, with a dissertation on lysosomal enzyme biogenesis.

After a short phase of clinical work, he became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

In 1987 Professor Hentze and his colleagues discovered a regulatory RNA motif that controls the utilisation of mammalian messenger RNA in response to intracellular iron availability.

This RNA motif has become a paradigm for how gene expression is controlled at the level of protein synthesis.

Professor Hentze also studies the relationship between disease and iron metabolism and as well as diseases due to errors in RNA processing and function.

In 2016, he was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

His research group is a high calibre team publishing in highly ranked journals, and setting an excellent standard for laboratory research.

This group collaborates with Professor Thomas Preiss at The John Curtin School of Medical Research here at ANU, and numerous other international research groups.

The work being undertaken by Professor Hentze and Professor Preiss is expected to have profound implications for cell and systems biology, and give new insight into diseases including cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you Professor Matthias Hentze MD, that you may confer on him the Degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa for his exceptional contributions to science.