Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

James Briscoe awarded 2008 EMBO Gold Medal

10.07.2008
The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced that James Briscoe of the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research will receive the prestigious EMBO Gold Medal for 2008.

Briscoe receives the award in recognition of his discovery that cells integrate time of exposure and concentration of a morphogen to subsequently mount a graded response.

Awarded annually, the EMBO Gold Medal recognises the outstanding contributions of young researchers in the molecular life sciences. Widely regarded as the most prestigious award of its kind in Europe, the Gold Medal highlights the high standards of Europe’s best scientists.

“James Briscoe has revolutionized our understanding of the specification of cell identity in a given spatial setting,” said Hermann Bujard, EMBO Executive Director. “His work exemplifies how talented scientists are advancing the field of molecular biology.”

Four years at Columbia University in New York as a postdoc in Thomas Jessell’s lab laid the foundation for Briscoe’s career as a developmental biologist. James says he “learned” developmental biology from working alongside Jessell and a “great” postdoc in the lab at the time, Johan Ericson.

While at Columbia University, Briscoe began to unravel the control mechanisms of neuronal cell identity in the ventral neural tube – a research theme sustained in his own lab at NIMR since taking up a group leader position in 2000. Specifically, the Briscoe lab studies the central role of the morphogen Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) to specify the position and subtype identity of neurons in the ventral spinal cord.

“We want to understand how neurons - nerve cells – are arranged in the spinal cord,” explains the EMBO Gold Medal winner for audiences other than his peers. “Specifically we are looking at the molecular basis of how different neuronal cells are organized in a developing embryo as a result of signals received from an important molecule called Sonic Hedgehog, or Shh, that is secreted from a particular region in the spinal cord.”

Briscoe and his group discovered a novel mechanism that allows cells to integrate the time of exposure and the concentration of the morphogen Shh to subsequently mount a graded response. In other words, different concentrations of the morphogen activate a signal within the receiving cell for different periods of times. Cells in turn respond to different durations of the signal by activating different genes and therefore becoming different types of nerve cells.

“The discovery that concentration is effectively converted into time is a major shift in our understanding of how a graded signal acts to regulate genes,” stated David Wilkinson, Head of Genetics and Development at NIMR, in his nomination of Briscoe for the EMBO Gold Medal.

James Briscoe’s contribution to the understanding of how cell identity is specified in a given spatial setting has established a new paradigm that may also apply in many other contexts. In addition to Shh, a number of other secreted molecules – members of different protein families – have also been implicated in acting as morphogens to pattern other tissues. “It is possible that other morphogens could use a similar mechanism to control cells, for example early in embryo development during gastrulation,” explains the Gold Medal winner.

“James’s discoveries have revealed general principles that may apply to many other contexts in which graded signals and downstream transcription factors control cell identity,” confirmed David Wilkinson.

Robb Krumlauf, former Head of Division at NIMR who helped to recruit Briscoe to the institute, points out his outstanding qualities at the bench: “At NIMR James rapidly established an independent and creative line of research in his own group. His work is highly rigorous, hits the heart of a problem, and continues to be timely and of wide general interest.”

Jim Smith of the Gurdon Institute agrees with Krumlauf that Briscoe’s work “has been remarkably creative and imaginative while retaining characteristic levels of careful experimentation and scholarship.”

On hearing the news of the EMBO Gold Medal Briscoe referred to the success of his team of researchers: “I have been very fortunate working with very talented and smart people. They taught me a lot, supported me fantastically, and made many significant contributions.”

In 2000, James Briscoe was selected to benefit from the highly competitive EMBO Young Investigator Programme, then in its first year and now renowned for its scientific excellence.

James Briscoe will receive the EMBO Gold Medal and an award of 10,000 euro on
6 September 2008 at the EMBO Members Workshop, Frontiers of Molecular Biology, in Tampere, Finland.

Suzanne Beveridge | alfa
Further information:
http://www.embo.org
http://www.embo.org/about_embo/press/embo_goldmedal08.html

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Success at leading conference on silicon materials science and technology in Japan
13.12.2018 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik

nachricht Ultrasound Connects
13.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>