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Home / News / Recipients of 2024 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award announced

Recipients of 2024 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award announced

The NOMIS Foundation is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2024 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award — congratulations to Andrea Ablasser, an immunologist at EPFL; Elena Conti, a biochemist and structural biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry; and Whitney Davis, an art historian at UC Berkeley.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to the advancement of science and human progress through their groundbreaking, innovative and collaborative research, Andrea Ablasser, Elena Conti and Whitney Davis have been granted the 2024 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award.

 

2024 NOMIS Awardee Andrea Ablasser

Andrea Ablasser (Photo: Alain Herzog)

Andrea Ablasser is full professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.

Ablasser’s research has revolutionized our understanding of innate immunity, playing a significant role in elucidating how cells respond to intracellular DNA as a signal of infection via the cGAS-STING pathway, a fundamental mechanism of immunity.

She also identified cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) as a second messenger in the immune response. In addition, Ablasser demonstrated that aberrant activation of the cGAS-STING pathway can lead to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity, illuminating the processes that contribute to disease.

The NOMIS Award is enabling Ablasser to elucidate the rules that govern the functioning of innate immunity and to establish the landscape of the regulatory, evolutionary and therapeutic potential of immune signaling pathways, which influence not only disease but also aging. Her NOMIS-supported project is Exploring Innate Immune (In)activities.

 

2024 NOMIS Awardee Elena Conti

Elena Conti

Elena Conti is director of the Department of Structural Cell Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich, Germany, and honorary professor for the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

Conti and her research group have determined the structures and mechanisms of approximately 100 macromolecular proteins and complexes, ranging in complexity from lower to higher eukaryotes.

She has illuminated the assembly of “productive” complexes on mRNAs, such as the exon junction complex and the polyA tail ribonucleoprotein complex, and of “destructive” complexes that act to degrade mRNAs. Conti’s research represents a major breakthrough in the field, as a paradigm for the direct coordination of distinct macromolecular machines in gene expression.

The NOMIS Award is enabling Conti to investigate the structure and biochemical nature of messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) in the brain throughout the mRNA life cycle and seeks to provide insights into how mutations in mRNP components lead to neurological diseases. Her NOMIS-supported project is Visualizing the Messenger: Deciphering the Architecture of Neuronal mRNA Particles at the Atomic Level.

 

2024 NOMIS Awardee Whitney Davis

Whitney Davis

Whitney Davis is professor of the Graduate School in the History of Art department at the University of California, Berkeley, US, and honorary professor of art history at the University of York, UK.

A leading art historian, Davis’ scholarship has vastly contributed to our knowledge of prehistoric and ancient arts, including worldwide rock art, ancient Egyptian and Greco–Roman arts, the Classical tradition in Western art (especially in Britain), and the development of modern art history in relation to archaeology, anthropology and philosophy.

Most recently, he has explored analytic models and historical reconstructions of the generation and dissemination of visual culture and of the spatial and temporal resolution at which pictures become visually meaningful.

The NOMIS Award is enabling Davis to explore how human beings’ experience of pictures, such as individual artworks or cultural styles of pictorial representation, shapes the ways in which people see the natural and social world beyond pictures. Understanding this experience has the potential to impact fields ranging from education and clinical psychology to social behavior and ethics. His NOMIS-supported project is Depictured Worlds: The Perceptual Power of Pictures.

 

NOMIS Insight lectures

In conjunction with the NOMIS Award ceremony, which will be held in Zurich, Switzerland, in October 2024, the awardees will give public lectures about their research. These NOMIS Insight lectures provide an intimate setting for new awardees to present their groundbreaking work to the broader scientific community, illuminating the pioneering foundational research that is “creating a spark” in the world of science.

 

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award

Established in 2016, the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award is presented to pioneering scientists and scholars who, through their innovative, groundbreaking research, have made a significant contribution to their respective fields and who inspire the world around them. Their bold ideas and unique approaches involve interdisciplinary collaboration and apply a broad range of methods, building bridges across the boundaries of disciplines.

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NOMIS Researchers

Director of the Department of Structural Cell Biology
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Professor of art history
University of California, Berkeley
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