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Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award: Dr Steven Spoel

Dr Steven Spoel has won the Biology award in the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Awards 2013 for international research scientists.

Dr Steven Spoel

Dr Spoel is Principal Investigator and Royal Society University Research Fellow at the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences.

He received the award for his research in systems biology, exploring how living cells react to changes in environmental signals, such as light, temperature and the effects of viruses, bacteria and fungi.

The goal of Dr Spoel's research is to understand how living cells translate environmental signals into changes in the expression of genes. In reaction to environmental signals, certain groups of genes are switched "off" or "on" in a coordinated way to redirect biochemical and metabolic pathways, ensuring the survival of single cells and whole organisms. Dr Spoel showed these switches are controlled by specific gene activators whose stability and activity are tightly controlled by molecular mechanisms that may be conserved from plants to animals and humans. Understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of coordinated gene expression could provide solutions for cancer treatment and for the stabilization of crop performance in varying environmental conditions.

Three prizes, each worth €10,000, were awarded by an independent scientific committee of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation on Friday 10 January 2014. It is the fifth time the Bayer Foundation has presented awards for excellent young scientists in the early stages of their academic career. Awards are made on the basis of the originality and quality of candidates' research and the significance of this work.