Steven Spoel wins 2013 Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award

January 2014

Bayer EESA winners

Dr. Abigail Doyle (left), Dr. Steven Spoel (middle), Dr. Javier Fernandez (right) were announced as the 2013 recipients of the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Awards

On January 10 the healthcare and agricultural global enterprise, Bayer, announced Steven Spoel as the 2013 winner of the "Biology" category of the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award. Steven received the award for "...outstanding contributions to a better understanding of how environmental signals influence gene expression in living cells."

Leverkusen, January 10, 2014 - The winners of the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award 2013 have been announced. The prizes, each worth EUR 10,000, have been awarded by an independent scientific committee of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The Bayer foundation presents for the fifth time the international Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award to excellent young scientists in the early stages of their academic careers.

"Research and science excellence play a central role for the innovation company Bayer. I am delighted that these prizes give us the opportunity to support and motivate the best talents in science," said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG responsible for Innovation, Technology and Sustainability, and member of the Board of Directors of the foundation. "Bayer’s innovation strategy has a long-standing history for exchange and partnership with academia. The promotion of up-coming scientists is an important element in our program. This early dialogue opens strategic partnership opportunities and thus is a key to future success of industrial research," continued Plischke.

This international prize was first presented in 2009. It is awarded annually in the three categories biology, chemistry and materials. The selection is made on the basis of the originality and quality of candidates’ research and the significance of this work for the respective award category.

Systems Biology: Exploring gene networks for human, animal and plant health

Dr. Steven Spoel is a principal investigator and a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, UK. The major goal of his research is to understand how living cells translate environmental signals into changes in the expression of genes. Any living organism is continuously attacked by biotic pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) but also by abiotic factors of chemical or physical (UV light, heat or cold) origin. Systems biology is the way to understand the complexity and the interactivity of the thousands of genes in an organism.

EESA ceremonyIn reaction to environmental signals, certain groups of genes are switched "off" or "on" in acoordinated way to redirect biochemical and metabolic pathways, ensuring the survival of single cells and whole organisms. Spoel showed these switches are controlled by specific gene activators whose stability and activity are tightly controlled by molecular mechanisms that may be conserved from plants to animals and humans. Understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of coordinated gene expression can provide solutions for cancer treatment and also for the stabilization of crop performance in varying environmental conditions.

Meanwhile the prize in the "Chemistry" category went to Dr. Abigail Doyle (Associate Professor at Princeton University, USA), while the Dr. Javier Fernandez (Associate Researcher at Wyss Institute/Harvard University, Boston, USA) was awarded the prize in the "Materials" field

The prizes are awarded by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The primary objectives of the foundation are the recognition of outstanding research achievements, the promotion of talented scientists and support for important school science projects. In content terms, the sponsorship activities focus on technology, natural sciences and medicine.

See also University of Edinburgh website or Bayer News.


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