UK (University of Dundee) Prestigious Fellowship to aid health and disease knowledge

Dr Kirby Swatek, from the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) in the School of Life Sciences, has been awarded a £250,000 Lister Research Prize Fellowship.

The awards are presented by the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine to support UK-based scientists in recognition of their excellence as early-career biomedical scientists and the future potential of their cutting-edge work.

Dr Swatek, who worked at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich before establishing his own independent research laboratory in the MRC-PPU last year, will use the funding to further our understanding of signalling pathways in health and disease.

He said, “It is a tremendous honour to receive a Lister Prize, and I look forward to becoming a part of the Lister community. This award will enable my laboratory to build an exciting and thought-provoking new line of research with significant potential to impact multiple disease-relevant areas of biology.”

The awards are aimed at researchers in the early years of running their own groups, for whom receipt of the prize would make a significant difference to their research.

The Institute’s approach to funding is unique in that it accepts applications from tenured and non-tenured researchers, clinicians and non-clinicians, and has no priority diseases or restrictions on the research area supported. This ensures that prize holders are given the freedom to develop their research careers individually, while also fostering a sense of identity within the Lister community.

Dr Swatek’s research career to date has seen him make several important discoveries in the field of signalling, including uncovering an unusual class of viral enzyme – called clippases – that ‘inactivate’ ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins, which are universal regulators of eukaryotic cell biology. He plans to use the Lister Fellowship to understand the biological roles these enzymes play and their link to better diagnosing, understanding, and treating disease.

Professor Dario Alessi, Director of MRC-PPU, said, “It is fantastic news that Kirby, who only opened his laboratory less than two years ago, has hit the ground running. A Lister Prize award is highly sought after and is a huge recognition for the vital and original research that Kirby is undertaking.”