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Olivier Voinnet awarded 2009 EMBO Gold Medal
Date:4/22/2009

Heidelberg, Germany, 22 April 2009 - Olivier Voinnet from the CNRS Institute of Plant Molecular Biology in Strasbourg, France, is awarded the 2009 EMBO Gold Medal. The researcher receives this medal for his pioneering work on the mechanisms and roles of gene silencing via RNA in plants.

With this annual award, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) recognizes the outstanding contributions of young researchers in the molecular life sciences. The EMBO Gold Medal is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious life sciences awards in Europe, highlighting the high standards of Europe's best scientists.

"Olivier Voinnet's contributions to our understanding of gene silencing via RNA have opened up new perspectives on how the activity of genes may be controlled," said Hermann Bujard, EMBO Director. "His outstanding work reflects imaginative approaches and a broad understanding of biological processes."

The prizewinner conducts fundamental biological research with significant implications for medicine. RNA silencing is a newly discovered and highly competitive field in molecular biology. It describes a gene regulation process that has implications for the maintenance of genome integrity, antiviral defense, and developmental patterning in many organisms. Defects in these processes can result in major human diseases including cancer.

"Olivier Voinnet is one of the most extraordinary young scientists that I have encountered," writes David Baulcombe, Professor of Botany at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK.

Already during his predoc time at Baulcombe's lab from 1996 to 2001, Voinnet's discoveries laid the foundation for his later understanding of the way plants use silencing to defend themselves against viruses, and how viruses, in turn, counteract this defense. "We did not know anything about the microRNAs or small interfering RNAs at that time," says the biologist. "Yet, with David, w
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Contact: Suzanne Beveridge
beveridge@embo.org
49-622-188-91108
European Molecular Biology Organization
Source:Eurekalert

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