Professor Cyril Zipfel receives Charles Albert Shull Award

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zipfel_pub_200Professor Cyril Zipfel has received the Charles Albert Shull award. This prestigious award acknowledges the scientific impact in plant sciences of a leading researcher under the age of 45 years of age.

The Charles Albert Shull Award from the American Society for Plant Biology commends Prof. Zipfel’s discovery of and research into pattern-triggered immunity in plants.

Prof. Zipfel, current Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory, has been investigating the molecular basis of plant immunity for over ten years. He has published some of the most influential papers on the topic, describing his key contributions in papers cited over 4,200 times.

His research spans concepts and methods from pathology, immunology, microbiology, molecular plant biology, genetics, biochemistry, and biotechnology.

The Charles Albert Shull Award recognises some of Prof. Zipfel’s major discoveries. These include characterisation of some of the first plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), and providing the first unequivocal demonstration of the importance of pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) perception for plant immunity, leading to a paradigm shift in our understanding of plant immunity. Much of Prof. Zipfel’s work is now textbook knowledge.

Prof. Zipfel completed his PhD in 2005 at the University of Basel in Switzerland and began his postdoctoral research in Prof. Jonathan Jones’ group at The Sainsbury Laboratory. In 2007 he was offered a prestigious position as Junior Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory. In 2011 he was promoted to Senior Group Leader, after which he was promoted again to Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory in 2014. He also holds the Chair of Plant Immunology at the University of East Anglia.

Other awards Prof. Zipfel has received include an EMBO Post-Doctoral Long-Term Fellowship (2005-2007), a Starting ERC grant in 2012, and being name a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in 2014.

Prof. Nick Talbot, Chair of the Council of The Sainsbury Laboratory, said “I am pleased to see Cyril Zipfel honoured by the American Society of Plant Biology in this way. The Charles Albert Shull Award recognises Cyril's outstanding achievements in plant-microbe interactions and, in particular, the function of plant immune receptors and the mechanisms by which they perceive pathogenic microbes. Cyril has made very substantial contributions to our understanding of plant immunity and has achieved a remarkable amount in a very short period of time. I am very proud of the achievements Cyril has made within The Sainsbury Laboratory and the example that he sets to all of the young scientists working across the Norwich Research Park.”

Prof. Dale Sanders, Director of the John Innes Centre where Prof. Zipfel is also a faculty member, said: “Even at this relatively early stage in his career Cyril has had enormous achievements. His contributions to plant immunology have had great scientific impact already, and he is undoubtedly a world-leader in plant immunology. The prestigious Charles Albert Shull Award is a very well deserved acknowledgement for his career successes to date.”

Prof. Zipfel said: “I feel very honoured to have received this prestigious award that has previously recognised a number of great plant scientists whom I truly admire.”