June 27, 2012

EMBO Medal for IST Austria Professor

EMBO Gold Medal for Jiří Friml • Most prestigious European award in life sciences



Jiří Friml has been awarded with the EMBO Gold Medal 2012. This was today announced by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). With this distinction EMBO highlights the quality of molecular biology research being performed by young European scientists. Friml is in the process of moving to IST Austria and will start his work with the completion of the second lab building in the fall of this year. The EMBO Gold Medal – bestowed upon only one scientist per year – is regarded as one of the most prestigious European awards in this field.

President Thomas Henzinger expressed his appreciation: “The distinction for Jiří Friml is exceptionally good news. It once more highlights his potential and his abilities. We, at IST Austria, regard these awards as confirmation of our strategy to attract the most promising scientists in their fields.” IST Austria professors have so far acquired € 25 mio in research grants, 90% coming from sources outside of Austria.

Jiří Friml is a plant cell biologist who obtained one PhD from the University of Cologne, and a second from Masaryk University in Brno. After having worked at the universities of Tübingen and Göttingen, Friml, in 2007, joined the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) in Gent, Belgium, as full professor. In 2011, he received an ERC Starting Grant supporting his research in polarity and subcellular dynamics in plants. Friml was awarded the Körber European Science Award in 2010, and elected EMBO member in 2010 and AAAS fellow in 2011.

Jiří Friml studies signal integration during plant development. Using a combination of genetics and high-resolution microscopy, he investigates how the integration of external signals, such as light or gravity, with cell polarity and intracellular trafficking translates into the development of the plant. In his research, Friml seeks to uncover the cellular and molecular mechanisms providing plant development with its unique abilities to adapt. His interdisciplinary research program is positioned at the intersection of molecular physiology, cell and developmental biology as well as evolutionary biology.

Founded in 1964 the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) is an organization of leading life scientist members that fosters new generations of researchers to produce world-class scientific results with the aim to raise the level of biological research in Europe by setting the highest standards to achieve scientific excellence. Winners of the EMBO Gold Medal receive a hand-crafted medal and a bursary of € 10.000. EMBO invites the recipient to present his research during the award ceremony held at the annual scientific conference.

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