Wenbo Ma Awarded Prestigious EMBO Membership

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The Sainsbury Laboratory is delighted to announce the election of our group leader, Wenbo Ma, as a new member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). This prestigious recognition honours Wenbo's significant contributions to the field of life sciences, highlighting her as a leading researcher in molecular plant pathology.

Professor Wenbo Ma joins a distinguished community of over 2,000 life scientists, which includes 92 Nobel Laureates. She is the fifth group leader at TSL to have been granted this membership, joining colleagues Prof. Jonathan Jones, Prof. Nick Talbot, Prof. Sophien Kamoun and Prof. Cyril Zipfel.

The new EMBO Members and Associate Members have been recognised for accomplishments that cover the spectrum of life science research, including work that has advanced understanding of how infectious disease spreads, the intricacies of ocean nutrient cycles, the mysteries of cellular signalling networks, the secrets of how plants survive in desert environments, and the links between the biology of our brains and our emotions.

Wenbo says: “I am extremely humbled to be elected a member of EMBO. It is a joy to share this honour with former and current members of my group who have done amazing science together. I am privileged to work with amazing colleagues and grateful for their support over the years.”

Wenbo is internationally recognized in the field of plant pathology for her outstanding research that unravels the molecular intricacies of the co-evolutionary arms race between microbial pathogens and plant hosts. Her work on pathogen effectors discovered critical virulence strategies employed by pathogens to induce disease. She is also one of the pioneers in establishing the role of small RNAs in plant immunity against non-viral pathogens. Her research has significantly enhanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying plant immunity and microbial pathogenesis, positioning her as a leading figure in plant science research.

Professor Nick Talbot, Executive Director of The Sainsbury Laboratory, says: "We are delighted that Professor Wenbo Ma has been elected as an EMBO member. EMBO Membership is a great honour, recognising research excellence in molecular biology, and this award is a thoroughly deserved recognition of Wenbo's outstanding work in plant pathology. Wenbo is a world leading scientist in plant immunity and microbial pathogenesis, and her work has provided key insights into effector biology in particular. She is also a wonderful colleague and mentor, who provides great leadership at TSL."

This year marks the 60th anniversary of EMBO, an organization founded on 12 July 1964 to foster excellence in the life sciences. EMBO has elected 120 new members this year, including 100 full members and 20 associate members, with 19 of them based in the UK.

EMBO Director Fiona Watt said: “The new EMBO Members and Associate Members have made immense contributions to fundamental life science research, and, in many cases, their work has paved the way for innovations that have improved lives and livelihoods around the world. As EMBO marks its 60th anniversary, we celebrate the pivotal roles played by the EMBO Membership in strengthening international life science research and contributing to the EMBO Programmes and activities. I send my warmest congratulations to all those elected.”

About EMBO

Founded in 1964, EMBO is an international organization of life scientists dedicated to promoting research excellence and fostering an environment where scientists can achieve their best work. EMBO’s headquarters is located in Heidelberg, Germany.

For more information about EMBO and its history, please visit www.embo.org

About The Sainsbury Laboratory

The Sainsbury Laboratory (tsl.ac.uk) is an independent research institute that focuses on plant health for a sustainable future. It makes fundamental scientific discoveries in molecular plant-microbe interactions and applies these to reduce crop losses caused by plant diseases, particularly in low-income countries. Around one hundred and twenty staff and students work and study at the Laboratory which is located on the Norwich Research Park, United Kingdom. The Laboratory is generously supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and by the University of East Anglia, wins competitive grants from the BBSRC, ERC and other research grant funding bodies and, for some research programmes, is funded by commercial companies. Established in 1987, highlights of The Sainsbury Laboratory include: discovery of RNA interference in plants by Prof. Sir David Baulcombe FRS as recognised by the Lasker Award and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture, discovery of the first immune receptor in plants by Prof. Jonathan Jones FRS, three current Group Leaders are Fellows of the Royal Society, four Group Leaders have won multiple prestigious European Research Council grants and five researchers have been on the Highly Cited Researchers list of top 1% scientists in the world since 2018.