Excellent female chemist researches researches the crystal structure of aldehyde oxidase enzymes

Teresa Santos-Silva

Clara Immerwahr Award Ceremony on February 21st / Invitation

The cluster of excellence “Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) will be presenting Dr. Teresa Santos-Silva of the New University of Lisbon (Portugal) with the 2014 Clara Immenwahr Award on February 21st at the Technische Universität Berlin. The chemist is being honoured for her outstanding contributions to the field of aldehyde oxidase enzymes, a group of enzymes that are important for all vertebrates.

Dr. Teresa Santos-Silva has focused in particular on the structural analysis of human and bacterial aldehyde oxidase enzymes, in which molybdenum cofactors play a role. In humans, these enzymes catalyse the breakdown of aldehydes, particularly in the liver; they are associated with important human diseases. 

Please draw attention to the Clara Immerwahr Award Ceremony in your media. Journalists are cordially invited:

Time:       Friday 21st February 2014, 4:00 pm
Location: TU Berlin, Main Building, Atrium (Lichthof)
Straße des 17. Juni 135, 10623 Berlin, Germany;
U-Bhf. Ernst-Reuter-Platz

The event will be conducted in English.

Please register at:


Welcoming remarks by Dr. Gabriele Wendorf, TU Berlin Vice-President, Ambassador Luis de Almeida Sampaio of Portugal, and by Prof. Dr. Matthias Driess, Chair of UniCat

Laudation by Prof. Dr. Silke Leimkühler, Potsdam University

Presentation of the Clara Immerwahr Award

Presentation by Dr. Teresa Santos-Silva, 2014 Clara Immerwahr Award recipient: "X-ray Crystallography for the Characterisation of Molybdenum Proteins"

Guest presentation by Prof. Dr. Linda H. Doerrer, Boston University: “The Magic Roles of Metal and Ligand for Selective Oxygenations” 

Dr. Teresa Santos-Silva’ s research goal is to understand the functioning of biologically important enzymes. To this end, she researches the three-dimensional structure of enzymes that therefore need to be in the form of individual crystals through the use of X-ray spectroscopy and computer-based evaluation methods. Teresa Santos-Silva is 35 years young, has three children and already 20 publication credits, including in some high-ranking scientific journals, such as the “Journal of the American Chemical Society“.

Teresa Santos-Silva will use the prize money for joint research with the Cluster of Excellence, “UniCat“. The goal of the planned work, together with Prof. Dr. Silke Leimkühler from the University of Potsdam, is the elucidation of the structure of formate dehydrogenases, enzymes that catalyse the conversion of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in living organisms.

The Clara Immerwahr Award is conferred by the Cluster of Excellence UniCat to honor an exceptional young female scientist in the field of catalysis, and invites the recipient to cooperate with UniCat working groups. The award will be presented in 2014 for the third time. It sets an example for the promotion of excellent female scientists and is a measure taken by the Cluster promoting women. Further activities undertaken by the Cluster to advance gender equality include, for example, gender sensibility seminars, professionalization of UniCat members, the establishment of guest scientist programs for female scientists, and the creation of Success Teams. 

The annual Clara Immerwahr Award carries a 15,000 Euro prize and is publicized internationally. This year the prize was financed by BASF SE and the TU Berlin. The prize is given in honor of Dr. Clara Immerwahr, who in 1900 was the first German woman to receive a doctorate for her work in physical chemistry from the Universität Breslau.


“Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) is an interdisciplinary research network within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation. Its main focus is on catalysis. Four universities and two Max Planck Institutes in Berlin and Potsdam are involved in UniCat.

Approximately 45 working groups collaborate across disciplines on research areas that are of major interest to future scientific developments in raw material change and energy turnaround. The areas studied by the working groups include the chemical conversion of methane to ethene, the chemical and enzymatic activation of carbon dioxide, the catalytic production of hydrogen from water using sunlight as the energy source, and the synthesis of active substances with the help of artificial enzymes.

For further information please contact:

Claudia Nasrallah
UniCat Cluster of Excellence, Gender Coordinator
Tel.: +49 30 314-28 882
E-Mail: claudia.nasrallah(at)tu-berlin.de  

Dr. Martin Penno
UniCat Cluster of Excellence, Public Relations
Tel.: +49 30 314-28 592
E-Mail: martin.penno(at)tu-berlin.de


More information on the UniCat Cluster of Excellence’s activities promoting  gender equality can be found at: www3.unicat.tu-berlin.de/Gender.54.0.html

For further information, please contact:

Claudia Nasrallah
Gender Coordinator, UniCat Cluster of Excellence
Technische Universität Berlin
Tel.: + 49 (0) 30 314-28882
Email: claudia.nasrallah(at)tu-berlin.de