Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science

This award honors scientists who are developing innovative analytical methods in chemistry with new applications that aim to improve human life.

Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award 2019

Prof. David Alsteens is awarded the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany during the Euroanalysis 2019 in Istanbul for his unique work on probing ligand binding on native membrane receptors. 

His novel technique offers a unique way to extract the dynamic receptor-ligand interactions from an AFM cantilever while recording high-resolution images of cellular membranes in physiologically relevant conditions. These interactions are of fundamental interest in many disciplines including cell biology, molecular biology, structural biology, biochemistry and biophysics.

2019 laureate

In 2019, Prof. David Alsteens at UC Louvain, Belgium is honored with the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science. He has developed a technique to measure ligand-receptor interactions on cell surfaces in native conditions while recording high-resolution images of cellular membranes. David Alsteens is research associate at the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) and full professor at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Université catholique de Louvain (UC Louvain).

About the Award

In memory of the company’s founder Heinrich Emanuel Merck the biennial Award stands for excellence in analytical chemistry for over two decades. It is open to researchers up to the age of 45 years who are developing innovative solutions to analytical problems in the life, material and environmental sciences; areas of science that are constantly gaining importance in our daily lives.

2017 Laureate

In 2017 Prof. Francesco Ricci from the University of Rome, Italy received the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Science for his groundbreaking development of DNA-based sensors. Prof. Ricci developed new strategies for the development of sensors for various diagnostic applications. The principal functions of the sensors are based on the same mechanisms that nature uses for biomolecular receptors. The analytical sensors are able to detect a wide range of antibodies, proteins and further analytes, which are relevant in medicinal research.

Previous Laureates of the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award

Year Name University/company Country Distinguished project
2019 Prof. David Alsteens UC Louvain Belgium Probing ligand binding to native membrane receptors in physiologically relevant conditions using AFM
2017 Prof. Francesco Ricci University of Rome Italy DNA-Based Beacon for Single-Step Fluorescence Detection of Proteins
2015 Prof. Petra Dittrich ETH Zürich Switzerland Microfluidic analytical platforms
2012 Prof. Aaron R. Wheeler University of Toronto Canada

Droplet-scale estrogen assays in breast tissue

2010 Prof. Luisa Torsi Bari University Italy Organic sensitivity-enhanced field-effect sensors for determination of chiral compounds
2007 Dr. Alexander Makarov Thermo Fisher Scientific, Bremen Germany Performance evaluation of a hybrid linear ion trap/orbitrap mass spectrometer
2007 Prof. Dr. Shuming Nie Emory University, Atlanta USA In vivo cancer targeting and imaging with semiconductor quantum dots
2004 Prof. Yoshinobu Baba University of Tokushima Japan Nanospheres for DNA separation chips
2002 Prof. Jonathan V. Sweedler University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign USA Measuring the peptides in individual organelles with mass spectrometry
2000 Prof. Norman Dovichi

University of Alberta


A multiple-capillary electrophoresis system for small-scale DNA sequencing and analysis
1998 Prof. Renato Zenobi ETH Zurich Switzerland Laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry
1996 Prof. D. Jed Harrison University of Alberta Canada Micromachining a miniaturized capillary electrophore-based chemical analysis system on a chip
1996 Prof. Andreas Manz Imperial College London Great Britain Micromachining a miniaturized capillary electrophore-based chemical analysis system on a chip
1993 Prof. Aviv Amirav Tel Aviv University Israel Pulsed-flame photometer : a novel gas chromatography detector

Dr. Bidlingmeyer

Millipore Corporation USA Liquid chromatography detectors
1990 Prof. Reinhard Nießner Technical University of Munich Germany The photoelectric aerosol sensor array applied to heavy metal aerosols
1988 Prof. Masataka Hiraide Nagoya University Japan Separation of trace elements from high-purity metals
1988 Prof. Otto S. Wolfbeis Graz University Austria Fluorescence sensors

Key Facts

  • Cycle: Biennial
  • Eligibility criteria: Scientists up to the age of 45 who have made valuable contributions to analytical sciences aimed at improving the quality of human life
  • Application documents of the candidates: First authorship based on own published research results (no older than 3 years) and a CV
  • Award ceremony: The recipients are honored at the Euroanalysis conference.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Griesar

Head of Science Relations

Dr. Armin Leng

Associate Director Science Relations, Public Funding