Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


EMBO Gold Medal 2014 awarded to Sophie Martin


EMBO today announced Sophie Martin of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, as the winner of the 2014 EMBO Gold Medal. The award acknowledges her work to understand the molecular events that define the organization and development of the cell.

Martin has been working for the past 15 years to understand cellular polarity, in particular the way in which the spatial organization of cells contributes to cell size and cell division. In the last 11 years, she has been using fission yeast, which grow as single, rod-shaped cells, as a model system for her investigations.

In 2009, Martin discovered that a protein kinase called Pom1, which forms concentration gradients that originate from each end of the cell, regulates progression through the cell cycle. Martin proposed a model for how Pom1 gradients provide spatial information that prevents fission yeast cells from dividing until they reach a sufficient length.1 This work renewed interest in the mechanisms of regulation of cell size.

Earlier work by Martin and colleagues identified a protein present on the growing ends of microtubules – the tube-like structures critical for shaping cells – and showed that this protein binds to an actin nucleation factor. Her work revealed a potential mechanism by which microtubules direct where the actin cytoskeleton promotes cell growth. 2

“From early in her career, Sophie has demonstrated exceptional and consistent scientific achievement in molecular and cell biology,” said EMBO Member Daniel St Johnston, who supervised Martin when she was a PhD student studying cell polarization in Drosophila at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, England. “She has also demonstrated a remarkable talent that includes a proven ability to change research fields and work on different model organisms while maintaining leadership roles in each of her chosen scientific areas.”

Martin’s earlier research on Drosophila focused on LKB1, a homologue of a human tumour suppressor protein. Her study revealed that loss of lkb1 causes defects in cell polarity and tissue disorganization. This work was one of the first to propose that the loss of cell polarity contributes to the formation of tumours, as individuals affected by Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, which is caused by lkb1 mutations, have cancerous intestinal polyps. 3

“It is an immense honour to receive such a prestigious award,” said the prizewinner upon hearing the news. “I have always been fascinated by how biological processes are spatially organized within cells. I feel incredibly lucky not only to have the freedom to study this basic problem but to be rewarded for it.” She added: “I am extremely grateful to past and present colleagues who have contributed to this work through their insight and support.”

“Sophie Martin is a superb scientist. She is also a very active citizen of the scientific community, both locally and internationally,” stated EMBO Member Pierre Gönczy from the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) at the School of Life Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

Sophie Martin will receive the EMBO Gold Medal and an award of 10,000 Euros on 2 September 2014 at The FEBS-EMBO Meeting in Paris where she will also give a lecture about her research.

1. Martin and Berthelot-Grosjean (2009) Nature 459: 782-783.

2. Martin et al. (2005) Developmental Cell 8: 479-491.

3. Martin and St Johnston (2003) Nature 421: 379-384.


Sophie Martin received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2003 for her work in Daniel St Johnston’s group at the Gurdon Institute on the molecular mechanisms of cell polarization in Drosophila. She pursued postdoctoral training at Columbia University in New York in the laboratory of Dr. Fred Chang where she studied the cytoskeleton in fission yeast. In 2007, Martin joined the Center for Integrative Genomics at the University of Lausanne as a Swiss National Science Foundation Professor. She was appointed Associate Professor at the Department of Fundamental Microbiology at the University of Lausanne in 2010. In 2009, she was elected an EMBO Young Investigator.

Sophie Martin, 38, received the Women in Cell Biology Junior Award in 2012 from the American Society of Cell Biology. She is the 2014 recipient of the Friedrich Miescher Award. Martin was awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant in 2010 to study the contribution of the spatial organization of cells to the cell cycle.


EMBO is an organization of more than 1500 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a European research environment where scientists can achieve their best work.

For more information:

Weitere Informationen:

Yvonne Kaul | EMBO

Further reports about: Biology Cancer Cell Drosophila EMBO actin cytoskeleton microtubules polarity polarization spatial

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>