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9 November 2006

"EMBO Young Investigator": Dr. Victor Sourjik of the Centre for Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg

Prestigious distinction for European junior research group leaders — Dr. Sourjik's research centres on the way bacteria recognise and process chemical stimuli

The European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) has announced the outcome of the selection round for its "EMBO Young Investigator" programme. Among this year's winners is Dr. Victor Sourjik of the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) at the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Sourjik receives the distinction for his research on signal transmission in bacteria cells.

The "EMBO Young Investigator" programme was initiated in 2000 to select and support the best young European researchers working in molecular biology. In a three-stage selection process taking account of scientific achievements and research programmes, 21 recipients have been singled out from all over Europe. An important prerequisite is that the applicants have not been in charge of their own lab for more than four years and that they can engage in independent investigation of the scientific issues they are interested in. The programme supports the recipients with a mentor system and the organisation of courses and symposia. In addition, the scientists selected receive annual prize monies of 15,000 euros.

Dr. Victor Sourjik studied biophysics in Moscow and did his doctoral dissertation in the field of molecular microbiology at the University of Regensburg. Subsequently he was a postdoc at the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at Harvard University before joining the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) at the University of Heidelberg in 2003 as junior research group leader.

Dr. Sourjik investigates how bacteria recognise and process chemical stimuli. Bacteria are able to respond with astonishing sensitivity to changes in nutrient concentration (e.g. in sugar molecules) in their vicinity and to move towards the source of nutrition. The fundamental molecular features of this signal recognition and processing ability are well-known. Dr. Sourjik takes a systems biological approach by using quantitative fluorescence microscopy on living cells to determine the localisation of all the molecules involved and their interactions in the cell. In conjunction with theoretical physicists from Heidelberg, Berlin and Princeton these data are used to develop mathematical models enhancing our understanding of signal transmission principles in biological organisms. For more details on Dr. Sourjik's work, readers are invited to consult his homepage (www.zmbh.uni-heidelberg.de/Sourjik/ ).

At present, Dr. Sourjik is one of four independent junior research group leaders at the Centre for Molecular Biology. The resources for this programme are supplied by the Centre itself. Dr. Sourjik is also a member of the cluster of excellence "Cellular Networks" selected for funding on 13 October in the first round of Germany's Initiative for Excellence organised by the Federal and state governments.

For a photo of Dr. Sourjik contact presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de.

Additional information on the "EMBO Young Investigator" programme can be found at www.embo.org/about_embo/press/new_yips06.html.

For more information contact
Dr. Ralf Tolle
Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH)
University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 282
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/546816, fax: 545507

Journalists can also address their inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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