Six Central European scientists awarded EMBO/HHMI startup grants

December 07, 2005

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) have singled out six outstanding Central European scientists to receive the EMBO/HHMI Startup Grants. These awards will help the scientists establish their first independent laboratories in the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary. Selection for the grants is a mark of the highest scientific excellence.

Each scientist will receive $75,000 U.S. a year for three years. HHMI will contribute $50,000 per scientist, and EMBO and participating member countries will provide the additional $25,000. EMBO will oversee the grants as part of its Young Investigator Programme, which has been identifying and supporting young scientists in Europe since 2000. The competition for the Startup Grants was extremely selective and applications were subject to the same rigorous scientific criteria as the EMBO Young Investigator Programme.

"HHMI already has an ongoing programme in support of established science in Central Europe, but we recognise that for science to flourish, fresh new ideas often come from fresh new scientists," said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI Vice President for Grants and Special Programmes. "This new programme aims to help promising new scientists get established with resources, space and time in the early years of their independent careers."

The new joint initiative will help scientists start independent careers in Central Europe with the resources to be competitive in contemporary world science. In addition to helping establish labs, a key element of the EMBO/HHMI Startup Grants is a guarantee of ongoing support. The institutions where the scientists are establishing their labs have made a commitment to continue to fund these researchers when the Startup Grants run out.

Said Frank Gannon, Executive Director of EMBO, "This new initiative is very timely. In an expanded Europe, where the focus is increasingly on excellent research, the need to strengthen science in Central European countries is clear. EMBO has a strong commitment to high quality research but also to improving standards throughout Europe. We hope that this initial joint action with HHMI will be a precursor to further stimulatory programmes in this region."

The new awards build on HHMI/EMBO grants awarded between 2002 and 2004 to support promising scientists in Central Europe early in their careers. That program helped strengthen the scientific pipeline in EMBO member countries where HHMI supports some of its international research scholars.

EMBO/HHMI Startup Grant Recipients

Krisztina Káldi
Molecular bases of the regulation of circadian rhythms, Department of Physiology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Mihaly Kovacs
Diversity of molecular motor mechanisms, Department of Biochemistry, Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary

Lumir Krejci
Srs2 protein and its multifunctional role in recombination/repair processes, National Centre for Biomolecular Research, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Mart Loog
Protein kinase signalling networks in the eukaryotic cell cycle, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Richard Stefl
Structural studies of protein-RNA complexes involved in RNA quality control, National Centre for Biomolecular Research, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Ervin Welker
Studies on the conformational transition of the prion protein, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy, Szeged, Hungary
About HHMI
One of the largest philanthropies in the world, HHMI has supported outstanding scientists in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Ukraine since 1995, reflecting the Institute's commitment to global scientific excellence. Through its international programme, the Institute supports outstanding non-U.S. scientists in 28 countries around the world.

European Molecular Biology Laboratory

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