Cambridge scientists elected as Members of the European Molecular Biology Organisation

Five Cambridge researchers join the community of over 2,100 leading life scientists today as the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) announces its newest Members in its 60th anniversary year.

They are among 120 scientists from across Europe and beyond that have been elected to the EMBO Membership, an honour that celebrates research excellence and outstanding achievements in the life sciences.

“The new EMBO Members and Associate Members have made immense contributions to fundamental life science research, and, in many cases, their work has paved the way for innovations that have improved lives and livelihoods around the world.

"As EMBO marks its 60th anniversary, we celebrate the pivotal roles played by the EMBO Membership in strengthening international life science research and contributing to the EMBO programmes and activities. I send my warmest congratulations to all those elected.”

EMBO Director, Fiona Watt

The new Cambridge Members are:

Dr David Adams, Senior Group Leader - Cambridge Cancer Centre; Department of Medicine; Wellcome Sanger Institute

“I'm honoured to be recognised by EMBO, which not only validates the hard work and dedication of my team but also opens new doors for collaboration and innovation.

"I am excited about the opportunities it brings to advance our research and contribute to the global scientific community.”

Adams' research aims to understand why specific types of cancer are more common in some families, and how changes we inherit from our parents may contribute. He is also interested in understanding how to generate more specific cancer treatments, particularly in the context of pre-malignant conditions. 

David Adams

Professor Claudia Langenberg, Queen Mary University London and Honorary Senior Fellow of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge

EMBO is science without borders. It is such an honour to be elected as a member and become part of this outstanding group of international scientists.”

Langenberg’s research generates and integrates information on the genetic basis of different molecular layers – the transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome – to characterise its system-wide effects across organs, tissues and cells to understand the causes of diverse human diseases.

Claudia Langenberg

Professor Kathy Niakan, Director, Centre for Trophoblast Research; Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience; Co-chair Cambridge Reproduction Interdisciplinary Research Centre

“I’m honoured by this tremendous recognition of our research, which has involved an entire team of dedicated and talented colleagues. I'm also very grateful to generous patient donors and collaborators who supported our research over many years.

"I look forward to contributing to EMBO's mission to promote international collaborations, support talented early career researchers and inform science policy.”

Niakan’s research is focused on the molecular mechanisms that regulate early human development. With her team she investigates mechanisms that are conserved and divergent using comparative embryology approaches. These insights are used to inform and expand the repertoire of human embryonic and extraembryonic stem cell models.

Kathy Niakan

Dr Emma Rawlins, Senior Group Leader, Gurdon Institute and Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

“I’m extremely grateful to my lab members, collaborators and mentors who have worked with me to develop the fun projects that are now being recognised by EMBO.

"It feels wonderful to be recognised by the European scientific community when I still feel like the ordinary kid from South Yorkshire, and it will be exciting to interact with other members.”

Rawlins works on lung development and stem cells. Her lab has developed human lung models that can be grown in a dish, and a series of tools to genetically manipulate them, allowing the fundamental mechanisms of human lung development to be investigated.

Emma Rawlins

Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini, Professor of Molecular Neurology, Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Clare Hall

“It is an honour to be elected to the membership of EMBO and to become part of this distinguished group of scientists. This would not have been possible without the insights and hard work of my research group and a number of excellent collaborators.

"I am looking forward to fruitful interactions with other EMBO members and to be involved in the promotion of high-quality science.”

Spillantini is a molecular neurobiologist who studies neurodegenerative diseases with abnormal filamentous protein inclusions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Her work has helped to establish the central role played by the assembly of the proteins alpha-synuclein and tau, preparing the ground for the development of mechanism-based therapies.

Maria Grazia Spillantini

The first EMBO Members were elected in 1964 ­­– that initial group of 169 life scientists has now grown into a community of more than 2,100 EMBO Members and Associate Members. 92 Nobel laureates are amongst those who have previously been elected to the EMBO Membership.

EMBO Members guide the execution of the EMBO Programmes and activities, for example by evaluating funding applications, serving on EMBO Council and committees, and contributing to initiatives such as training, policy, outreach and mentorship. New members are nominated and elected by the existing EMBO Membership.

EMBO will formally welcome the new members at a meeting of the EMBO community between 29 October and 1 November 2024 in Heidelberg, Germany. An online directory listing all EMBO Members and Associate Members, their affiliations, and subject areas is available here.

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