Thursday, January 31, 2008

Naama Barkai wins 2008 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) announced that Israeli systems biologist Naama Barkai is the first-ever winner of the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. From the press release:

Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of women in science. Naama Barkai's deep understanding of the relevant biology and physics allows her to combine experiments and theory to develop novel solutions to fundamental biological problems such as chemotaxis, embryonic development and the organisation of the cellular transcription programmes.

Professor Uri Alon, a colleague of Barkai for the past eight years at the Weizmann Institute of Science commented: "Naama's work is consistently inspiring. She has, in my opinion, identified some of the most fundamental problems in systems biology and proposed elegant and powerful answers."

The selection committee credits Barkai's originality and creative research as not only revolutionising the field of systems biology but also significantly changing the way scientists think about complex biological processes.
Barkai is an associate professor in the departments of Molecular Genetics and Physics of Complex Systems at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Her research is at the interface between mathematics and biology. As her web site explains:
The adaptation of cells to the changing environment requires sophisticated information processing, which is mediated by networks of interacting genes and proteins. Identifying the principles that govern the design and function of those networks is a central goal of modern research. Our lab is using theoretical and computational tools to investigate system-level properties of biological networks. Wet-lab experiments validate and extend theoretical results. One approach is to study small and well-characterized networks. Our goal here is to understand the biological constraints that are imposed on a particular system, and the impact of those constraints on the structural design of the network. Currently we are focusing on networks that mediate patterning during the development of the fruit-fly Drosophila. In particular, we are interested in the robustness property of those systems, namely their ability to buffer alteration in gene dosage and changes in environmental conditions such as temperature or availability of nutrients. Those requirements imposed strict constraints on the structure of the underlying patterning network.
Her group also analyzes networks of gene expression in yeast using microarrays.

Additional information:
FEBS and EMBO are looking for nominees for the 2009 Women in Science Award.
The nominee must be a woman who have made significant contributions to her field of science in the last 5 years. The award is generally not meant to be for lifetime achievements. The nominee’s research must be based in one of the FEBS or EMBO member countries and in a scientific field covered by FEBS and EMBO, i.e. the life sciences, including medical and agricultural research.
You can get more information on the FEBS or EMBO web sites. The deadline is August 15, 2008.

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