Biological Sciences

Dr Julie Welburn receives EMBO Young Investigator Award

Julie Welburn, Senior Research Fellow in the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology at the School of Biological Sciences, is the recipient of an EMBO Young Investigator award.

EMBO’s Young Investigator programme identifies recent research group leaders with a proven record of scientific excellence and offers them access to a range of benefits during their four-year tenure.

Dr Julie Welburn

Julie Welburn is a Wellcome Senior Research Fellow, studying a group of proteins, called molecular motors, that transport proteins and other molecules around cells and contribute to their healthy functioning.

Cell Transport Systems

Transport is essential to many cell types, such as neurons that can be up to a metre long. Moving signals from one part of the cell to the other is essential to signal from different parts of the body to the brain.

Molecular motors walk on thread-like structures, called microtubules, that act as a cell’s transport system and provide structural support.

Julie Welburn’s research group uses cell biology, biochemistry and imaging techniques to understand how molecular motor proteins cooperate with microtubules and their cargos to ensure cells function properly.

Healthy Cell Division

In particular, when cells divide, motors and microtubules act together to ensure equal distribution of packages of DNA, called chromosomes, so that each cell receives an identical copy.

Mistakes in this process lead to cells having an abnormal number of chromosomes - a common feature of many cancers. This makes molecular motors an important anti-cancer drug target.

Molecular motors help to build a collection of microtubules, collectively called the spindle, that attach to chromosomes and pull them apart as the cell divides.

Dr Welburn’s group investigates how motors and microtubules contribute to the correct alignment and separation of chromosomes during cell division. 

EMBO Young Investigator Benefits

EMBO selected 26 life science researchers within their first four years as group leaders to become EMBO Young Investigators, including two from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Welburn will join a network of 102 current and 314 past EMBO Young Investigators.

Young Investigators are provided with an award of 15,000 euros and mentorship by a senior scientist from the community of EMBO Members. 

The programme also provides access to training in leadership skills and responsible research practices, networking opportunities and the use of core facilities at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.


I am delighted to have been selected by EMBO. I look forward to broadening our scientific scope by participating in the program and creating connections with other Young Investigator Programme fellows around the world .

Dr Julie Welburn, Senior Research FellowWellcome Centre for Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences


The accepted candidates have all shown outstanding promise in their early careers and impressed our selection committee with both the quality of their current work and their proposals for future research. We look forward to supporting them in establishing their own research groups.

Maria LeptinEMBO Director

Related Links

Welburn Laboratory

EMBO Young Investigator Programme