University of Dundee

Prestigious 'Young Scientist' award goes to Dundee Professor

08 May 2009

A University of Dundee scientist is the first UK winner of the prestigious 2009 Young Scientist Award presented by the Federation of European Biomedical Societies.

The award, which comes with prize money of €10,000, has been given to Professor Frank Sargent in the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the College of Life Sciences at Dundee.

“I am delighted to be the first ever winner of this international award to come from the UK,” said Professor Sargent. “It is further evidence for the growing reputation of molecular microbiology at the University of Dundee. Winning this came as a complete surprise, but this sort of international recognition is brilliant for us and testament to all the great people I have in my team here.’

Professor Sargent will be highlighted in a special issue of the journal, and will be formally presented with the Award and give a presentation of his work to over 1000 delegates at a major congress in Prague in July.

The FEBS Young Scientist Award is given to the author of the best paper published in the scientific journal FEBS Letters, one of the world's leading journals in biochemistry.

The winner is selected by an international committee. Professor Sargent is the seventh winner of the award, with previous winners having come from Japan, Germany, South Korea and the United States.

Professor Sargent’s research focuses on how bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella live and grow. He and his team have made several important discoveries in this field and have published their findings widely.

The paper for FEBS Letters - titled ‘Features of a twin-arginine signal peptide required for recognition by a Tat proofreading chaperone’ - concentrated on a process of “protein targeting” which make some bacteria infectious and provided new insight in how this works at the molecular level. Bacteria could potentially be manipulated to inhibit this process and render them harmless.

Despite the large number of researchers around the world who are now working on this area, Professor Sargent is confident his team will continue to be at the cutting-edge of research. “We are the best placed laboratory world-wide to design a test to interfere with this process in bacteria,” he said.

The work which led to the paper published in FEBS Letters was funded by a grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.