Jan Lwe of the Medical Research Councils Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB, Cambridge, UK) has been chosen as the 2007 winner of the EMBO Gold Medal. Jan was selected for the award in recognition of his landmark work elucidating the structure and function of proteins involved in bacterial cell division, said EMBO Executive Director, Hermann Bujard.
Awarded annually, the EMBO Gold Medal recognises outstanding contributions of young researchers in the molecular life sciences. Considered the most prestigious award of its kind in Europe, the Gold Medal highlights the achievements of Europes best scientists.
Lwes many accomplishments in his young career illustrate the golden qualities that characterise all EMBO medal winners. Jan has single-handedly revolutionised our understanding of the bacterial cell cycle and cell morphogenesis, through his insightful structural studies on virtually all of the key players, says Jeff Errington, Director of Newcastle Universitys Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences. His work highlights the complexity and sophistication of bacterial cells, and how they remain wonderful subjects for studying fundamental biological mechanisms at the molecular level.
Jans adventure into the inner workings of bacteria began almost 11 years ago when he joined the MRC-LMB as a post-doc. His work with Linda Amos on trying to crystallise tubulin led to work on a bacterial version of it, called FtsZ. In 1998, Jan solved the structure of FtsZ. Three years later, his group determined the structure of MreB, a prokaryotic actin-like protein which had been discovered by Jeff Errington. The structural discoveries of FtsZ and MreB proved to be key pieces of evidence for the discovery of the bacterial cytoskeleton.
Until that point, having a cytoskeleton was a claim to fame held only by eukaryotic cells. The inner workings of bacterial (prokaryotic) cells were now showcased against the backdrop of a flexible scaf
Contact: Anne Seller
European Molecular Biology Organization