Jiří Friml BE - EMBO Gold Medal 2012
Sunday, 23 September, 19:00 - 19:45, Apollon Auditorium
The EMBO Gold Medal 2012 has been awarded to Jiří Friml of the Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB and Ghent University, Belgium.
Awarded annually, the EMBO Gold Medal recognizes outstanding contributions of young researchers in the molecular life sciences.
The recipient is awarded the Medal at The EMBO Meeting and gives a talk.
Auxin is a prominent intercellular signal in plants and acts as a versatile trigger of developmental change. Directional, active, cell-to-cell transport over short distances mediates differential auxin distributions within tissues (auxin gradients) that are required for various patterning processes, including apical-basal axis formation, organogenesis and tropisms. Various environmental and endogenous signals can be integrated into changes in auxin distribution through their effects on intercellular auxin transport. Differentially expressed auxin transporters of the PIN family, each with specific polar, subcellular localization form a network for directional auxin distribution and formation of these local gradients. PIN proteins undergo cycles of a clathrin-dependent endocytosis and ARF GEF-dependent recycling that serves to feed-back regulate throughput and directionality of intercellular auxin flow. The activity of PIN proteins can be regulated at the individual cell level by changes in their vesicle trafficking-dependent polar targeting. Thus, the PIN-dependent auxin transport network, whose directional throughput is modulated by both endogenous and exogenous signals, provides one of the mechanisms underlying the plasticity and adaptability of plant development.
Jíří Friml studied biochemistry at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic and performed his PhD studies at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research at the University of Cologne, Germany. He was also awarded a PhD in biochemistry from the Masaryk University, Brno. After a short time as a post-doctoral researcher, he established his own laboratory at the University of Tübingen, Germany, with the aid of an award from the Volkswagen Foundation. Currently he holds a position of professor for Plant Systems Biology at the VIB/University of Ghent, Belgium and works part-time at the Central European Institute for Science and Technology (CEITEC) in Brno. From 2013 he will move to the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) in Austria.
Jiří Friml decisively contributed to our understanding of how plant growth and development is internally regulated by plant hormones and externally by environmental cues. His studies revealed the existence of morphogenetic gradients of the plant hormone auxin that act as a versatile mechanism governing plant development and are able to integrate environmental signals such as light and gravity. He has also made pioneering contributions to the field of plant cell biology, namely cell polarity, endocytosis and vesicle trafficking. For his groundbreaking contributions, the 39-year-old scientist collected prestigious awards including the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize and the Körber European Science Award. He is an elected Member of EMBO and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
EMBO Award presentation
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