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Systems biologist finds novel solutions to fundamental biological problems

30 January 2008, Heidelberg, Germany and Rehovot, Israel The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) announced Naama Barkai of the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel as the first-ever winner of the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. Naama Barkai receives the 2008 award for her outstanding contributions to the field of systems biology and the mathematical modelling of biological systems.

Each year, the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award recognizes and rewards the exceptional achievements of a female scientist in life sciences research over the previous five years. Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of women in science.

Naama Barkais deep understanding of the relevant biology and physics allows her to combine experiments and theory to develop novel solutions to fundamental biological problems such as chemotaxis, embryonic development and the organisation of the cellular transcription programmes.

Professor Uri Alon, a colleague of Barkai for the past eight years at the Weizmann Institute of Science commented: Naamas work is consistently inspiring. She has, in my opinion, identified some of the most fundamental problems in systems biology and proposed elegant and powerful answers."

The selection committee credits Barkais originality and creative research as not only revolutionising the field of systems biology but also significantly changing the way scientists think about complex biological processes.

An associate professor at the departments of Molecular Genetics and Physics of Complex Systems at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, Naama Barkai utilizes mathematical modelling to unravel the principles that govern the design and function of biological networks. She was visiting professor at Harvard University (2005-2006) and a Robert H. Dicke Fellow at Princeton University where she worked with Stanislas Leibler on the theoretical analysis of biochemical networks. She received her PhD in Physics at the Hebrew University (1995) for research on statistical mechanisms of learning.

The 2008 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award of 10,000 euro will be presented to Naama Barkai on 2 July 2008 at the 33rd FEBS Congress and 11th IUBMB Conference in Athens, Greece where she will present a special plenary lecture.

"I am honoured that FEBS and EMBO have recognized my work," said Naama Barkai. "Women are under-represented in academia and this award helps to raise awareness of the opportunities for female scientists to further their research careers."

In 2007, Naama Barkai was elected an EMBO Member and she was an EMBO Young Investigator (2001-2004). She has received several prestigious awards including the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation (2007), the Teva Prize for Research in Systems Biology (2005), the Morris L. Levinson Biology Prize from the Weizmann Institute of Science (2004) and the Michael Bruno Memorial Award (2004).


Contact: Suzanne Beveridge
European Molecular Biology Organization

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