The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) has announced this year’s winners of the Career Development Awards. Among the eight awardees, who were selected from 63 candidates by the HFSP, is Professor Petr Broz from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The prize, endowed with about CHF 290,000, promotes the independent and high quality research of the biologist as well as supports the establishment of his presently growing research group.
Petr Broz has been SNSF Assistant Professor in Infection Biology at the Biozentrum since 2013. He studies the defense mechanisms of the innate immune system and is interested in how pathogens, which have invaded the host cell, are detected and eliminated. In this process, a cellular signaling complex, the inflammasome, plays an important role. It leads to the release of proinflammatory enzymes and initiates the death of the affected cell, thus preventing the spread of infection to the surrounding cells.
Recently, Petr Broz has demonstrated that the so-called guanylate-binding proteins attach to the pathogens inside the host cell, thereby triggering a signaling cascade that leads to the destruction of intracellular pathogens and furthermore to the activation the inflammasome. These findings have been published in the high ranking scientific journals Nature and Nature Immunology. In his project, supported by the Career Development Award, Petr Broz will investigate how exactly guanylate-binding proteins recognize bacteria inside the host cell and their mode of action. This is of particular interest, as presumably a whole range of pathogens, including the diarrhea causing Salmonella typhimurium, are rendered harmless in this way.
Through granting a Career Development Award, the HSFP distinguishes former fellows, who have already received a long-term fellowship for their postdoctoral research abroad. With the prize money, the awardees are provided with the opportunity to establish their own research group, ensuring its independent research. Petr Broz studied microbiology at the University of Basel and completed his PhD under Prof. em. Guy Cornelis on the bacterial infection apparatus T3SS (type III secretion system). He subsequently worked for four years at Stanford University, USA, with a HSFP long-term fellowship before returning to Basel in 2013 to become a SNSF Professor at the Biozentrum. The young scientist has already received several awards for his outstanding research, including the Young Investigator Award of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).
The Career Development Award is granted to applicants who have submitted projects of a high scientific quality and furthermore show potential to significantly advance life sciences research by applying novel technology and approaches in their work. HFSP supports research at all levels, beginning from the investigation of genes and biomolecules to studying the interactions between organisms.