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Nobel Laureate Hartmut Michel Delivers a Lecture in HZAU

Hartmut Michel in HZAU

Appointment Ceremony

On May 29, Prof. Hartmut Michel, the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, visited HZAU and was appointed as honorary professor of HZAU. President Li Zhaohu gave a warm welcome to Hartmut Michel and conferred the letter of appointment on him.

Hartmut Michel is a professor of biochemistry at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, and serves as the Director of the Department of Molecular Membrane Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics. He is Foreign Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Foreign Member of National Academy of Sciences (US), Foreign Member of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and that of Royal Society (London). He has devoted himself to the study of the structure and function of membrane proteins, and established the methodology of crystalline membrane proteins. His research findings have been applied in medical field. Hartmut Michel was conferred with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988 for finding success with the crystallization of membrane proteins and elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of the photosynthetic reaction centre. He shared the prize with Robert Huber and Johann Deisenhofer.

At 7:30 pm, Prof. Hartmut Michel gave an academic lecture on the Lecture Hall of National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement. Vice President Qing Ping presided over the lecture.

With the title of “Membrane Proteins: Medical Importance, Structures and Mechanisms”, Prof. Michel first demonstrated membrane protein with a schematic diagram of a typical human cell. He pointed out that membrane protein is the active ingredient of biofilm. Most diseases are caused by insufficiency or over-stimulation of membrane protein, and eighty percent of marketed drugs work on membrane proteins. To further highlight the importance of membrane protein, he also listed five relevant studies that once won Nobel prizes. Combining with the biological model of electron transport respiratory chain in photosynthesis, Prof. Michel expounded the structure and conformation changes of the complex in the process of electron transport in photosynthesis, and explained the structure and mechanism of membrane proteins.

Subsequently, Prof. Michel delivered another report titled “The Nonsense of Biofuels”. In the report, by comparing the changes in carbon dioxide concentration and temperature over the past 400,000 years, he concluded that the rise in temperature preceded that in carbon dioxide concentration. This was because the temperature rise stimulated the activity of aerobic bacteria that degraded the biomass, leading to the production of carbon dioxide. Prof. Michel then raised a question: “Can plants be used to produce biofuels to solve energy issue and mitigate global warming?” He elaborated on the basic principle and reaction process of light and dark reactions in photosynthesis, pointed out the factors of energy waste in the reaction process, and calculated the energy conversion efficiency of photosynthesis through detailed calculation.

Hartmut Michel is exchanging ideas with faculties and students.

A student is asking Hartmut Michel for questions.

The event is sponsored by the Institute of Science and Technology Development and organized by the College of Life Science and Technology. Hartmut Michel is the fifth Nobel laureate to give an academic report in HZAU in the past two years. Li Jingwei, a student from the College of Life Science and Technology, said, “It is inspirational to listen to the report given by such outstanding scholars, not only because we can acquire knowledge from them, but also we can better comprehend what attitude should we hold towards scholarship.”


Translated by: Leng Yaqing

Supervised by: Pan Buhan