The award recognizes her exceptional achievements in the life sciences and highlights her as a role model
11 February 2024 – EMBO and FEBS are delighted to announce that Anne Ephrussi, emerita of EMBL Heidelberg, Germany, is the recipient of this year's FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award. It celebrates outstanding female life scientists, recognizing their research achievements and contribution to a particular discipline over the past five years in Europe. The awardees are inspiring role models who help pave the way for future generations of women in science.
“It is a huge honour and most humbling to receive the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award. This recognition is truly due to the numerous bright scientists—lab members and colleagues—with whom I have had the great fortune to work, each with their own ideas and skills, their generous and open minds,” Ephrussi says. “I’m profoundly grateful for having had the privilege of carrying out publicly funded fundamental research and contributing to training generations of young scientists at EMBL. It has also been tremendously stimulating and enjoyable taking part in numerous activities of EMBO over the years.”
Ephrussi receives the award for elucidating mechanisms of mRNA transport from the site of transcription to specific locations within polarized cells and the regulation of translation. She spent most of her career working on a single Drosophila gene called oskar. Her recent research revealed that the transition of oskar ribonucleoprotein granules from the liquid to the solid phase is crucial for their role in embryonic development. She also showed that the transport of oskar mRNA to its correct location at the pole is achieved by switching from dynein- to kinesin-mediated transport along microtubules.
EMBO Director Fiona Watt says: “I would like to congratulate Anne on this well-deserved award. Her commitment to high-quality research and training is inspirational.”
In addition to her research, Ephrussi is honoured for excelling in mentoring young scientists as well as overseeing scientific training, conferences, education and public engagement. She demonstrated her commitment to training life scientists at all stages of their careers through her leadership of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training from 2005 to 2023. Ephrussi is highly respected in the international community of RNA biologists and supported it by serving on several committees and advisory boards. She has been an EMBO Member since 1995 and was a member of EMBO Council.
“Anne has been a role model not only for scientific performance but also for her commitment to institutional business and education. In all these aspects, she has been a leader while at the same time remaining a humble person with great and genuine human qualities,” says EMBO Member Denis Duboule, a professor at Collège de France, Paris, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.
The FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award 2024, consisting of 10,000 euros and a bronze statuette, will be presented to Ephrussi at the 48thFEBS Congress in Milan, Italy, where she will give a plenary lecture on 3 July 2024.
INFORMATION FOR EDITORS
Anne Ephrussi is a French-American molecular, cellular and developmental biologist. She is emerita of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, as a former director, senior scientist and group leader.
Ephrussi’s academic journey started with an AB degree from Harvard University, US (1979). She received her PhD degree (1985) for research on the interaction of cellular factors with the mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain enhancer, which she conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, under the supervision of Susumu Tonegawa. She carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard University with Thomas Maniatis (1986-1989) and then joined the group of Ruth Lehmann at the Whitehead Institute, US, and MIT to study the maternal control of embryonic patterning (1989-1992). After cloning the Drosophila gene oskar and discovering that the transcript is localized to the posterior of the embryo, she demonstrated that oskar is positioned at the top of a hierarchy of genes responsible for germline formation. Since Ephrussi has moved to EMBL in 1992 to set up her own research group, she has provided insights into the structure and function of the Oskar protein, the establishment of cell polarity and the assembly of transport-competent RNA-protein complexes. She was head of the EMBL Developmental Biology Unit (2007-2021).
Throughout her career, Ephrussi has been committed to training of scientists. As director of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training (2005-2023) she oversaw the PhD and postdoctoral fellow programmes, courses and conferences, as well as science education and public engagement activities. She also was dean of graduate studies of the EMBL International PhD Programme (1999-2008).
Ephrussi received the Feldberg Prize (2022) and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Developmental Biology (2023). She is an elected member of EMBO, the French Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea and the US National Academy of Sciences. She served on numerous committees and advisory boards, and was a member of EMBO Council and the French Haut Conseil de la Science et de la Technologie.
About the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award
The Women in Science Award is a joint initiative of FEBS and EMBO. It recognizes and highlights major contributions by female scientists working in Europe to life sciences research in the past five years. The awardee receives a prize of 10,000 euros as well as a bronze statuette and gives a plenary lecture at the FEBS Congress.
Nominations for the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award 2025 close on 15 May 2024.
For more information:
The Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) is one of Europe’s largest organizations in the molecular life sciences, with over 30,000 members across 39 biochemistry and molecular biology societies (its 'Constituent Societies') in different countries of Europe and neighbouring regions. As a grass-roots organization FEBS thereby provides a voice to a large part of the academic research and teaching community in Europe and beyond.
As a charitable academic organization, FEBS promotes and supports biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, molecular biophysics and related research areas through its journals, congress, advanced courses, fellowships and other initiatives. There is an emphasis in many programmes on scientific exchange and cooperation between scientists working in different countries, and on promotion of the training of early-career scientists. For more information: www.febs.org
EMBO is an organization of more than 2,000 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a research environment where scientists can achieve their best work.
EMBO helps young scientists to advance their research, promote their international reputations and ensure their mobility. Courses, workshops, lectures and EMBO Press publications disseminate the latest research and offer training in techniques to maintain high standards of excellence in research practice. EMBO helps to shape science policy by seeking input and feedback from our communities and by following closely the trends in science. For more information: www.embo.org
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