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November 12, 2014

Petr Broz and Sebastian Hiller to become EMBO Young Investigators

Each year, the European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO selects young, talented scientists from all Europe into the EMBO Young Investigator Program. The organization has now released the names of 27 researchers who will become EMBO Young Investigators 2014, including Petr Broz and Sebastian Hiller, both professors at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. With this program, EMBO supports promising scientists on their career path and promotes international scientific exchange.

EMBO Young Investigators: Prof. Petr Broz and Prof. Sebastian Hiller

Two scientists from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel can be pleased about their selection this year to EMBO Young Investigators: The infection biologist Prof. Petr Broz and the structural biologist Prof. Sebastian Hiller. They will receive a contribution of 15,000 Euros. Furthermore, EMBO supports the scientists with a mentoring program, offers diverse courses and symposia and provides them with the opportunity to intensively interact and network with other researchers.

Battle of the host and pathogen

Petr Broz came to the Biozentrum in 2013 as an SNSF Assistant Professor in the field of infection biology. His research focuses on the role of the innate immune system, specifically the inflammasome, in recognizing and eliminating invading pathogens. He uses the diarrhea-causing pathogen Salmonella typhimurium as a model organism to investigate the complex interactions between the host’s own immune system and the microbe. Broz studied molecular biology at the University of Basel and conducted his PhD on the bacterial infection apparatus T3SS (type III secretion system) in Prof. em. Guy Cornelis’ group. Before coming to the Biozentrum, he carried out research work at Stanford University, USA. The young scientist has already received several fellowships and published his work in distinguished scientific journals, most recently in “Nature” about the strategies used by macrophages to reveal camouflaged bacteria.

Structure elucidation using the latest NMR technology

Since 2010, the SNSF Professor Sebastian Hiller studies the structure-function relationships of membrane proteins. Already, while undertaking his dissertation at the ETH in Zurich, Hiller investigated the structure of membrane proteins using NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy). He subsequently carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, as well the ETH in Zurich. Membrane proteins provide cells with a means of contact to the outside world. Forming tiny pores, they are responsible for the transport of nutrients and signal transduction. Employing the latest NMR technology, Hiller successfully identified the molecular mechanisms which explain transport and integration of proteins in the outer membrane at the atomic level. Already in 2011, Hiller was awarded a coveted European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for his research work.

With the Young Investigator program, the EMBO organization supports outstanding researchers who are not older than forty and are at the beginning of their careers as an independent research group leader. EMBO lays a particular value on individual support, for example, in the form of mentoring, as well as on promoting networking of the scientists through providing diverse events such as the annual EMBO Young Investigator Meeting. Broz and Hiller are joining a network of 342 former and current EMBO Young Investigators, including three researchers from the Biozentrum: Prof. Silvia Arber, Prof. Anne Spang and Prof. Dirk Bumann.

Contact: Communications, Katrin Bühler