2021 EMBO Gold Medal for ERC Grantee

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Tags: ERC Grantee | EMBO

Biomedical researcher Andrea Ablasser won the 2021 EMBO Gold Medal today for her role as a young leader in the life sciences field, in particular in recognition of her pioneering work on how cells sense DNA. 

The EMBO Gold Medal is awarded annually and recognizes outstanding contributions to the life sciences in Europe by independent group leaders who are under the age of 40. Each winner receives a bursary of 10,000 euro.

EMBO Member and ERC Scientific Council Vice President Nektarios Tavernarakis commented “On behalf of the ERC, I would like to warmly congratulate Prof. Andrea Ablasser on being awarded the 2021 EMBO Gold Medal. Prof. Ablasser receives the award for her groundbreaking studies on the mechanisms of innate immunity and inflammation.


The ERC is very proud to have supported Prof. Ablasser’s innovative research with an ERC Starting Grant. She is the 15th ERC grantee to have received this prestigious EMBO award.”

Andrea Ablasser receives the award for her pioneering work on how cells recognize inappropriate presence of double-stranded DNA in the cytoplasm as a danger signal and how the sensing of DNA initiates powerful innate immune responses. Her scientific work provides insights into newly discovered mechanisms of innate immunity and may pave the way for therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of inflammatory conditions and cancer in humans.

Prof Ablasser has been exploring the mechanisms and regulation of the DNA sensor cGAS, which upon activation produces the messenger molecule cGAMP. This messenger activates the receptor STING, which eventually activates the immune system through the production of cytokines. More recently, she has elucidated mechanisms by which this pathway is suppressed when encountering host DNA to avoid autoreactivity. More on the Ablasser lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

Ablasser was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2018 for her project ImAgine: Exploring the link between innate Immunity and cellular Aging.

About EMBO

EMBO is an organization of more than 1800 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a European research environment where scientists can achieve their best work. Full EMBO press release and interview with Prof Andrea Ablasser.