In 2006, the IS-MPMI board established the IS-MPMI Award, to be presented to a scientist in the MPMI community who has performed outstanding innovative research.
The award consists of a plaque and a cash prize of $1,000.
Jeff Dangl, a plant-genome scientist and the John N. Couch Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill,
the 2009 recipient of the IS-MPMI Award. The award, only the second to
be given, honors outstanding innovative research. Dangl joined UNC in 1995, after receiving a B.S. degree in biology, a B.A. degree in modern literature (1981), and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (1986) from Stanford University. He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and associate director of the Carolina Center for Genome Science. He served on the
MPMI Editorial Board for 11 years. This self-proclaimed “hard-core geneticist” focuses on host-pathogen interactions, mainly looking at how plants recognize and fend off pathogens; overall, how to make plants more disease resistant.
Jeff Dangl, recipient of the 2009 IS-MPMI Award.|
His lab mostly uses Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress)—the first plant genome to be sequenced—to study disease resistance. The lab’s research centers on 1) understanding the structure and function of plant NB-LRR disease resistance proteins, especially RPM1; 2) the molecular control of hypersensitive programmed cell death that accompanies disease resistance responses; and 3) understanding the molecular mechanism by which pathogenic bacteria cause disease in plants using diverse suites of type III effector proteins.
Dangl has made significant contributions to the understanding of plant defense from pathogens and the molecular basis of the innate immune response in plants. For these and other important contributions to the field of molecular-plant interactions and following an internal vote process by the IS-MPMI Board of Directors, Dangl
was elected as the recipient of the 2009 award.
After an election by the IS-MPMI board, Thomas Boller, University of Basel, was chosen to be the first-ever recipient of the IS-MPMI Award.
Pierre de Wit (on left) introducing Thomas
Boller (on right) the recipient of the first
Boller, a native of Switzerland, is well known in the MPMI community. He and his group have produced excellent innovative research during the last decade. His group has discovered many microbial factors that are perceived by plants and mount defense responses.
The real breakthrough came from cloning FLS2 and EFR, the receptors for bacterial flagellin and EF-TU, respectively. This work has stimulated many new research lines in several labs around the world. Terms like MAMPs and PAMPs have been introduced. New functions for pathogen effectors were discovered that could link basal defense responses with effector-induced defense responses mediated by resistance proteins.
Boller’s group has produced many outstanding scientific publications in high-impact journals, such as Science, Nature, and Cell. He is a highly cited author. The impact of his work is tremendous, not only in plant sciences but also in mammalian innate immunity. Toll-like receptor kinases link primary innate immunity in plants and animals.
Boller has been a role model for young scientists. Not only for his scientific contributions but also for his services to science in general. He has served on many national and international research committees and scientific and editorial boards. He has been vice rector of the University of Basel and has been elected a member of Deutschen Akademie der Naturforscher.
The award and cash prize were presented during the XIII International Congress in Sorrento. After receiving the award, Boller gave a presentation on his work entitled “PAMPering elicitors; how flags and elfs learned to fly.”