Each year the European Molecular Biology Organization, known as EMBO, selects a number of excellent life scientists to join its ranks as lifetime Members. This year, five AcademiaNet members have been given that honour: Dr. Maria Dolores Martin-Bermudo, Prof. Ana Martin-Villalba, Prof. Uta Paszkowski, Prof. Katja Sträßer and Dr. Danijela Matic Vignjevic. “The new Members have contributed to the success of research in the life sciences in Europe and around the world,” the EMBO Director, fellow AcademiaNet member, Prof. Maria Leptin, explained in a press release.
Dr. Martin-Bermudo, who is based at the Andalusian Center for Development Biology at the University of Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla, Spain, studies the forces exerted by cells and the extracellular matrix. She is particularly interested in how these forces regulate cell migration and cell shape in fruit flies. During her career, she has spent time at both the University of Cambridge in the UK and the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center in Madrid, Spain. In 2002, she was made an EMBO Young Investigator.
Neurobiologist Prof. Martin-Villalba focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in how adult brain stem cells are activated, and how this links to plasticity and brain self-repair. She hopes the knowledge she accumulates will allow new regenerative therapies for brain patients to be developed. She is based at the Division of Molecular Neurobiology at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany.
Prof. Paszkowski is based at the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK. Her work combines molecular genetics and advanced imaging to elucidate the symbiotic relationship between the roots of land plants and fungi. On the back of these studies, she and her group have suggested new methods for communication between the two organisms.
In Prof. Sträßer’s laboratory, her group attempts to understand genome expression and maintenance in eukaryotes by studying the individual steps, such as transcription, and how they achieve efficiency and accuracy. Prof. Sträßer is based at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany. She has previously been based at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and been part of the EMBO Young Investigator program.
Finally, Dr. Vignjevic is based at the Institut Curie in Paris, France, where she leads a group dedicated to understanding how epithelial cells interact with their microenvironment during migration, using the gut as a model system. The long-term goal is to pin down the mechanism by which cancer cells migrate during metastasis. She has previously been based at the University of Belgrade in Serbia, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University in the US.
The five AcademiaNet members are honoured as part of a cohort of 63 leading scientists, participating in an EMBO tradition going back to 1963. (© AcademiaNet)