University of Dundee

MRC-PPU scientist wins prestigious young investigator award

08 Mar 2012

The British Biochemical Society has chosen Dr Kristopher Clark in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit (MRC-PPU) at the University of Dundee to receive an Early Career Development Award in 2013.

These prizes are presented annually to four young scientists for work carried out in the United Kingdom in recognition of the impact of their research. Only scientists who have been awarded their PhD degrees within the last five years are eligible.

Each awardee will present their Medal Lecture at a Biochemical Society conference in 2013, when they will also receive an honorarium of £1000 and the medal. The lecture will be published in the journal Biochemical Society Transactions.

The Biochemical Society expects that “the successful candidates will have produced international quality research outputs, and be able to demonstrate ambitions and aspirations consistent with the potential to achieve world-leading status.”

Dr Clark was selected by Theme Panel V, which covers the field of Signal Transduction. This topic represents a major aspect of current biochemical research.

Over the past two years, Dr Clark has identified how the immune system defends the body against infection by bacteria and viruses without overproducing substances called “cytokines”, which are a major cause of lupus, psoriasis and arthritis. His research has also identified ways in which improved drugs to treat these autoimmune diseases might be developed.

Commenting on his award, Dr Clark said, “I am thrilled to have won this award from the Biochemical Society. It is a great honor to have my research recognised by my peers in this way. Dundee has provided me with a great opportunity and stimulating environment to address key questions in the innate immune system and my research would not have been possible without the support of many people within the College of Life Sciences. I now look forward to presenting my Medal Lecture next year.”

The awards are made on a two-year cycle, with four of the eight Theme Panels of the Biochemical Society choosing the recipient each year.

Montreal, Canada, Dr Clark studied in Canada, Australia and then the Netherlands from where he obtained his Ph.D. degree from the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2007. In March 2006 he was awarded a Short-Term Fellowship from the Federation of European Biochemical Societies to enable him to spend a month in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit and it was this visit that led him to join Philip Cohen’s laboratory in May 2007 after being awarded a Long-Term Fellowship by the European Molecular Biology Organisation.

Professor Sir Philip Cohen said, Director of the MRC-PPU, said “I am really delighted that the Biochemical Society has chosen Kris for one of their young investigator awards. He has made two major breakthroughs that have significantly increased our understanding of how the innate immune system is kept in check to prevent the onset of autoimmune diseases. One of these has yet to be published and will make a big impact when it is. About six years ago I changed my field of research to try and tackle the challenging  problem of how the innate immune system is regulated. Kris’s contributions have been instrumental in gaining rapid national and international recognition for this relatively new research programme.”