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Finnish Doctoral Candidate to Receive Barbara Hobom Prize

Cluster of Excellence BIOSS Awards Elina Kiss from the Spemann Graduate School

Freiburg, Feb 14, 2012

Finnish Doctoral Candidate to Receive Barbara Hobom Prize

Elina Kiss

Elina Kiss, a Finnish doctoral candidate at the Spemann Graduate School (SGBM) of the University of Freiburg, has been selected to receive the 2011 Barbara Hobom Prize. This prize is awarded each year by the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS (Centre for Biological Signalling Studies) for outstanding research projects in the areas synthetic biology, signaling, and bioengineering. The purpose of the 10,000-euro prize is to promote promising young female scientists.

The laureate conducted research into the role of cells of the inborn immune system in the intestine in a research group led by Prof. Andreas Diefenbach at the Institute of Medical Microbiology. In particular, she focused on the so-called “innate lymphoid cells” (ILC), which help to build up the immune system of the intestine by forming numerous lymph clusters, thus protecting us from intestinal infections and inflammations of the bowels. She succeeded in demonstrating that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor on the ILC influences the formation of the lymph clusters. Certain nutrients in vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts activate this receptor, the prize winner explains, thus strengthening the ILC cells and preventing certain bacterial intestinal infections from appearing. The prize money will enable the doctoral candidate to study the effect of the receptors on the ILC cells in even more detail.

According to Prof. Dr. Michael Reth, Director of BIOSS and chairman of the jury in charge of awarding the Barbara Hobom Prize, Ms. Kiss’ findings are a nice, scientifically validated example of how a healthy diet has a positive effect on the functioning of the immune system. The young SGBM researcher’s findings on the impact of environmental influences on the immune system were published in the renowned journal Science in 2011.
Ms. Kiss will receive the prize from Dr. Barbara Hobom in person within the context of the BIOSS seminar “Synthetic Biology and Signaling”

on Monday, 19 March 2012, at 11 a.m.
in the Biology I lecture hall on Hauptstraße.

Barbara Hobom was a biologist at the University of Freiburg and a science journalist. She first used the term “synthetic biology” 21 years ago in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

German Press Release

Annette Kollefrath-Persch
Phone: 0049 761/203-97662