The Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) is pleased to announce that the 2014 HFSP Nakasone Award has been conferred upon Uri Alon of the Weizmann Institute of Science for his pioneering work in discovering network motifs. His discovery of network motifs provided the single most important foundation of the field of systems biology, because it opened up the previously impenetrable complexity of genetic circuits to systematic analysis and understanding.
The HFSP Nakasone Award was established to honour scientists who have made key breakthroughs in fields at the forefront of the life sciences. It recognizes the vision of former Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan in the creation of the Human Frontier Science Program. Uri Alon will present the HFSP Nakasone Lecture at the 14th annual meeting of HFSP awardees to be held in Lugano, Switzerland, in July 2014.
Uri Alon discovered that complex genetic networks can be understood in terms of much simpler building blocks, called network motifs. He discovered these motifs, and elucidated their functional roles in diverse biological systems from bacteria to animal cells. Alon's seminal work involved three key parts as described in the award nomination. "First, he discovered the algorithm that revealed the existence of motifs and their identities. Second, he used this method to catalog the most important motifs in biological systems, including the now ubiquitous Feed-Forward Loop (FFL), which he showed provides a core set of specific signal processing functions in all cells, including temporal filtering, pulse generation, and ratiometric sensing. Third, he systematically analyzed these motifs both theoretically and experimentally to understand their functional capabilities in bacteria and mammalian cells, along the way introducing innovative, elegant, and widely influential approaches based on accurate quantitative measurements in living cells." Together, this work established the modern paradi
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Human Frontier Science Program