International Recognition for The Sainsbury Laboratory Head

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Professor Cyril Zipfel becomes the first plant scientist to win the Okazaki Award
Professor Cyril Zipfel becomes the first plant scientist to win the Okazaki Award

A leading researcher at The Sainsbury Laboratory has been honoured with a prestigious international award in recognition of his innovative work on plant immunity.

Professor Cyril Zipfel, a senior group leader and the current Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory at the Norwich Research Park, has been announced as the fourth recipient of the Tsuneko & Reiji Okazaki Award awarded by Nagoya University (Japan).

The award – launched in 2015 – is made each year to an early-career scientist who has made significant contributions to biology through “innovative and original approaches or transformative technologies”.

Professor Zipfel is the first plant scientist to win this award, which recognises a young scientist’s “extraordinary efforts and accomplishments” and aims to encourage his or her future success.

Previous winners of the award are: Professor Feng Zhang from the Broad Institute of MIT, Professor Yukiko M. Yamashita from the University of Michigan Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Professor Maria Barna from Stanford University.Professor Zipfel said: “I am deeply honoured - especially in the light of the amazing scientists who give their name to the award and the distinguished previous recipients. I am also very proud to be the first plant scientist to receive the award.”

Professor Zipfel's research intestigates the molecular mechanisms underlying plant immunity and how this knowledge can be used to improve disease resistance in crops.

He has been consistently listed as Highly Cited Researcher since 2014 in the field of Animal and Plant Sciences.

The Okazaki award is administered by the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) from Nagoya University (Japan). It is named after Professor Tsuneko Okazaki and her husband the late Professor Reiji Okazaki who in the 1960s discovered what became known as the Okazaki fragments. These are newly-synthesised DNA pieces formed during DNA replication which were identified by the Okazaki laboratories at Nagoya University.

Professor Zipfel will deliver a lecture as part of an award ceremony in October 2018.

Find out more information on the Okazaki Award