Scholar wins two prestigious awards

  • July 12, 2011
Scholar wins two prestigious awards

Nabil Wilf has been awarded European and departmental prizes.

A Gates scholar has been awarded two prizes for his work on how bacteria infect plants and animals.

Nabil Wilf [2007], who just completed his PhD in Biochemistry, was awarded the Roche Researcher of the Year award in May.

Just a month later he won an award for best presented paper at the 4th Congress of European Microbiologists in Geneva.

Previously, he was also awarded the 2010 Sir Howard Dalton Prize as the Young Microbiologist of the Yearby the Society for General Microbiology.

The Roche award is open to postdocs and PhD students in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biochemistry. They were asked to write an article about an aspect of research to which they were the main contributor.  Three finalists were selected from those who submitted articles and they had to give presentations of their work. Nabil won and was named researcher of the year. His presentation, based on an aspect of his PhD, was about the role of a specific gene in regulating antibiotic production in a strain of bacteria. He knocked out the gene and found that antibiotic production was turned off in addition to severely weakening the bacteria’s ability to mount an infection in a plant and animal host models. As well as the prestige of winning the award, Nabil will receive £500.

The European award and 500 Euros was presented at the Federation of European Microbiological Societies’ Congress from 26-30 June. Nabil presented a paper that followed on from his previous work. He investigated the mechanism of how the gene may control antibiotic production and pathogenesis using the technique of RNA sequencing to measure changes in the expression of other genes within the bacteria.

Around 150 travel grants were awarded to young scientists to attend the Congress. Nabil was one of six students who received a travel grant and were selected for the prize.

He says: “I hope my research will help to increase the understanding of how bacteria infect plants and animals and that in the future this may contribute to devising more effective interventions to prevent disease.”

Nabil is graduating on 23 July and will start a two-year postdoc in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology based in Cambridge focusing on the application of synthetic biology to protein engineering with the goal of creating more stable protein therapeutics.

Picture credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net and jscreationzs

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