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EMBO Members and Young Investigators named HHMI International Research Scholars


Heidelberg, 7 July 2005 – EMBO Members and EMBO Young Investigators have been awarded prestigious Infectious Diseases & Parasitology Grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The EMBO scientists are part of an award roll of 42 outstanding researchers, who will receive $17.5 million to tackle the mysteries of the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying infectious and parasitic disease.


Nearly 500 scientists from 62 countries applied for the five-year awards. HHMI selected researchers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand and Uruguay. Each will receive $350,000 to $500,000 U.S. dollars over five years.


The EMBO awardees are EMBO Members, Pascale Françoise Cossart, Jean-Laurent Casanova and Philippe J. Sansonetti; EMBO Young Investigators, Elena A. Levashina and Maria Manuel Mota; and former members of the EMBO Young Investigator Programme, Gisou F. van der Goot and Laszlo Nagy.


2005 HHMI Infectious Diseases & Parasitology - International Research Scholars


Pascale Françoise Cossart, Ph.D.
Professor and Head of the Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Pasteur Institute, INSERM
Paris, France


Pascale Cossart will study Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that is one of the best models of intracellular parasitism. She will characterize the processes by which Listeria infect cells, tissues and organs and succeed to breach host barriers.


Philippe J. Sansonetti, M.D.
Professor and Head of the Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculair, Institut Pasteur
Paris, France


Philippe Sansonetti studies Shigella, Gram-negative bacteria that cause dysentery. His goal is to decipher the molecular and cellular bases of Shigella’s rupture, invasion and inflammatory destruction of the intestinal lining. He also plans to analyse the mechanisms of immunity against Shigella, hoping to use his findings to develop vaccine candidates.


Jean-Laurent Casanova, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Immunology Unit
Director, Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, Necker Medical School and Hospital for Sick Children, University of Paris René Descartes
Paris, France


Jean-Laurent Casanova will conduct research on the potentially fatal condition known as herpes simplex encephalitis, which, for an unknown reason, develops from herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) in a small percentage of infected children. His search for a candidate gene and an understanding of the underlying immunodeficiency of this disease in families may have important medical and biological implications.


EMBO Young Investigators


Elena A. Levashina, Ph.D.
Researcher, Institut de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire
Strasbourg, France


Elena A. Levashina will study the role of the insect immune system in the survival of malaria parasites in the Anopheles mosquito, the insect vector that transmits malaria to humans. Her work has implications for development of novel vector control strategies.


Maria Manuel Mota, Ph.D.
Group Leader, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal


Maria Mota hopes to determine the host molecules and mechanisms required for development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium inside the liver cells of its host. She plans to apply a systematic RNA interference (RNAi) screen to determine which molecules are required for successful parasite development.


Former members of the EMBO Young Investigator Programme


Gisou F. van der Goot, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland


Gisou van der Goot wants to understand the mechanisms by which anthrax toxin manages to delay the onset of normal immune responses. She will use a variety of cell biological, morphological and biochemical techniques, including an RNAi screen, to analyze the molecular mechanisms that govern the delivery and presentation of the toxin and its enzymes in the cell.


Laszlo Nagy, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Debrecen Medical and Health Sciences Center
Debrecen, Hungary


Laszlo Nagy will use pharmacological and genetic approaches to delineate the pathways regulated by PPARg, a transcription factor that plays a key lipid-handling role in macrophages, immune-system cells that control inflammation. He plans to use targeted elimination of PPARg from mouse macrophages to determine its effect on infectious disease models.


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Tilmann KießlingTilmann Kießling
Head, Communications
T. + 49 160 9019 3839