May 20, 2015

Congratulations to Nico Thomä, Botond Roska and Tuncay Baubec

Today, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced the election of the FMI group leader Nico Thomä to its membership. The election is based on his proven excellence in research. Similarly, in recognition of his important contributions to research in visual science directly related to disorders of the human eye, Botond Roska will be awarded the 2016 Cogan Award from the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. The Cogan Award is the most prestigious award in vision research for scientists under the age of 45. Finally, Tuncay Baubec, a postdoctoral fellow in Dirk Schübeler’s group has been awarded this year’s Bruno Speck Award.

In recent years, Nico Thomä, senior group leader at the FMI, has made significant contributions to our understanding of large multi-component protein machines that ensure genome stability and maintenance. Thomä and his research group at the FMI work on large ubiquitin ligase enzyme complexes that regulate protein stability in the cell. They have elucidated not only the crystal structure of the E3 ligase, but also of the COP9 signalosome, its regulator, and have resolved the mechanism of action of thalidomide, a cancer chemotherapy, which alters the target specificity of the ligase. The Thomä group works in close collaboration with scientists from different fields to link their structural insights to functional data, cross-pollinating developments in many areas.

Each year, EMBO elects leading scientists as EMBO Members on the basis of proven excellence in research. With his election, Thomä figures– along with 13 other FMI scientists – among Europe’s top 1500 life scientists. EMBO Members provide scientific expertise to the fellowship and conference programs coordinated and funded by EMBO, as well as participating in projects to promote the public dissemination of scientific knowledge.

» More about Nico Thomä
» EMBO media release


Botond Roska, senior group leader at the FMI, is a renowned expert in the structure and function of retinal circuits in health and disease. His work has contributed in both a fundamental and highly original manner to our understanding of the function of retinal circuits. In addition, he has used his knowledge of retinal processing and the newly available optogenetic tools to reactivate retinal function, at least partially, in mouse models of blinding retinal diseases. Together with scientist from around the world, but particularly the Vision Institute in Paris, he currently tries to bring this method of vision restoration to patients with retinitis pigmentosa, and other late-onset adult blindness diseases.

The 2016 Cogan Award from the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology now recognizes and highlights these outstanding contributions to the field. With this he joins Ted Drya and Connie Cepko, two thought leaders in the field, who have earlier received this award as well.

» More about Botond Roska
» Cogan Award


At this year’s meeting of the Basel Stem Cell Network, Tuncay Baubec, a postdoctoral fellow in Dirk Schübeler’s group, received the Bruno Speck Award 2015. The award recognizes his contribution to the identification of the determinants that set epigenetic marks along the genome. His study, published in Nature, shows that genetic activity and DNA sequence play a greater role in the regulation of epigenetic marking than previously thought and questions the popular idea that gene expression can be influenced by external factors via epigenetic marking. Tuncay is also the recipient of a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, an award that allows him to take up a post as assistant professor at the University of Zürich.

» More about Tuncay Baubec
» Bruno Speck Award

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