16 May 2018
Young independent group leaders are a key component of a strong research environment. To recognize some of the remarkable achievements of scientists under the age of 40 in Europe, EMBO awards its Gold Medal annually. Basler and Schuh will each receive a gold medal and an award of 10,000 euros.
Marek Basler, who is based at the Biozentrum at the University of Basel, Switzerland, receives the award for his pioneering work on bacterial type VI secretion systems (T6SS).
Following his PhD research on bacterial toxins, Basler began working on T6SS. Combining cryo-electron microscopy with live-cell imaging approaches, he determined the system’s structure and functional dynamics in great detail. In addition to showing how T6SS functions as a molecular speargun, Basler also demonstrated that these nanomachines are involved in interbacterial signal transduction.
EMBO Member Erich Nigg, University of Basel, says about Basler: “He has shown originality and productivity throughout his career, and has made many groundbreaking contributions. His work has revolutionized research on bacterial secretion systems and clearly established him as a leader in this field.”
Melina Schuh from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, is awarded the medal in recognition of her ground-breaking work on meiosis in mammalian oocytes.
As a PhD student, Schuh developed a way to use live cell imaging microscopy to study meiosis in mouse oocytes. She later extended this technique to observing the processes that result in aneuploidy in human eggs. In addition to identifying molecular processes during meiosis, Schuh has also established new tools to study gene and protein function in the female germ cell.
EMBO Member Sean Munro, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, describes Schuh as “a truly remarkable young scientist. She is utterly committed, a broad thinker, experimentally fearless, and always looking for new questions and approaches. She has pioneered methods to image mammalian meiosis and used them to identify new players in this fundamental process. In a particularly important move she also performed the first live imaging of meiosis in human oocytes.”
The EMBO Gold Medal recipients have been invited to present their research at an award ceremony at the ASCB | EMBO Meeting 2018 in San Diego, USA, in December.
More information about both recipients and their research is available in two interviews at https://embo.org/news
Marek Basler carried out both his undergraduate studies and PhD under the supervision of Peter Šebo at the Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. In 2007 he took up a postdoctoral fellow position in the laboratory of John Mekalanos at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, where he became interested in bacterial secretion. He moved to Switzerland in 2013 to take up an assistant professorship at the Biozentrum, University of Basel. His lab investigates the type VI secretion system, a nano-needle structure that bacteria use to inject toxins into other cells.
Basler is a former EMBO Long-Term Fellow and an EMBO Young Investigator. He is also the recipient of the 2018 Friedrich Miescher Award.
Melina Schuh studied Biochemistry at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She obtained her PhD in 2008 from the University of Heidelberg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), where she established ways to use confocal microscopy to image meiosis in mammalian oocytes in the lab of Jan Ellenberg. She started her own research group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK in 2009. Since 2016, she is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, where her group studies the formation of fertilizable eggs in mammals.
Schuh is a former EMBO Young Investigator, and an EMBO Member. She is also the recipient of the 2014 Lister Institute Research Prize, the 2014 Biochemical Society Early Career Award, the 2015 John Kendrew Young Scientist Award and the 2019 Colworth Medal.