Meet the 2012 International Early Career Scientists

André Báfica, MD, PhD 

Federal University of Santa Catarina 

Florianópolis, Brazil Báfica is working to characterize a tuberculosis (TB) protein that is recognized by the human immune system and could someday boost the effectiveness of vaccines against TB.

Megan R. Carey, PhD
The Champalimaud Center for the Unknown
Lisbon, Portugal

Using transgenic mice, Carey’s lab is studying how specific neurons and synapses control the activities of the cerebellum, a part of the brain responsible for fine-tuning movement.

Pedro Carvalho, PhD
Center for Genomic Regulation
Barcelona, Spain

Carvalho’s lab is studying the mechanisms by which cells cope with a surplus of misfolded proteins.

Rui M. Costa, PhD
The Champalimaud Center for the Unknown
Lisbon, Portugal

Costa studies how the brain mediates the way organisms learn to move and act in their environment. His innovative study designs combine techniques to reveal the language of the brain.

László Csanády, MD, PhD
Semmelweis University of Medicine
Budapest, Hungary

Csanády is developing approaches to understand the structure and function of ion channels.

Óscar Fernández-Capetillo, PhD
Spanish National Cancer Research Center
Madrid, Spain

Fernández-Capetillo’s investigation of DNA damage that occurs when cells replicate is leading him into other areas, including cancer and aging.

Luísa M. Figueiredo, PhD
Institute of Molecular Medicine
Lisbon, Portugal

Figueiredo studies how parasites, such as Trypanosoma brucei, evade the host immune system by varying their exposed surface antigens.

José L. García Pérez, PhD
Pfizer-University of Granada-Junta de Andalucía
Center for Genomics and Oncological Research
Granada, Spain

García Pérez studies how the movement of mobile DNA affects the human genome.

Miguel Godinho Ferreira, PhD
Gulbenkian Science Institute
Oeiras, Portugal

Ferreira hopes to find out if telomeres work as molecular clocks dictating how long we have before age-related diseases, namely cancer, start making an appearance in our lives.

Rodrigo A. Gutiérrez, PhD
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Santiago, Chile

Gutiérrez investigates the gene networks that underlie plants’ growth and developmental adaptations in response to nutritional signals.

Junjie Hu, PhD
Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing, China

Hu’s research focuses on understanding how shaping and remodeling occurs in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum

Bavesh D. Kana, PhD
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa

Kana studies how changes in the cell wall of the tuberculosis bacterium affect whether an infected patient develops active disease.

Fyodor A. Kondrashov, PhD
Center for Genomic Regulation
Barcelona, Spain

As organisms evolve, genes are copied, mutated, and combined to give cells and proteins new functions. Kondrashov studies how changes at the gene level are selected for and, over time, lead to changes in an organism’s biological fitness and function.

Sandhya P. Koushika, PhD
National Center for Biological Sciences
Bangalore, India

Koushika uses Caenorhabditis elegans to study the movement of presynaptic vesicles from one part of a nerve cell to another.

Simón Méndez-Ferrer, PhD
National Center for Cardiovascular Research
Madrid, Spain

Different cell types are intricately connected and in constant communication throughout the body. Méndez-Ferrer studies how this communication occurs and how organs affect each other.

Thumbi Ndung'u, PhD
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Durban, South Africa

Thumbi Ndung’u wants to help find a way for the body’s immune system to fight off the HIV virus on its own.

Marcin Nowotny, PhD
International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
Warsaw, Poland

Nowotny uses X-ray crystallography to reveal the structures and mechanisms of DNA and RNA enzymes essential to cellular function.

Dong-Chan Oh, PhD
Seoul National University
Seoul, South Korea

Oh focuses on discovery of small organic molecules derived from natural sources that can be used as therapeutic agents.

Gabriela C. Pagnussat, PhD
National University of Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata, Argentina

Research by Pagnussat is helping to explain the delicate and precise reproductive process in plants.

Feng Shao, PhD
National Institute of Biological Sciences
Beijing, China

Shao uses his multidisciplinary background to understand the delicate relationship between bacteria and the organisms they aim to infect.

Rocio Sotillo, PhD
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Monterotondo, Italy

Sotillo studies how inappropriate numbers of chromosomes can help cancer cells thrive.

Chun Tang, PhD
Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics-Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wuhan, Hubei, China

Tang is developing novel nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to study the behavior and structures of proteins in motion.

Rosella Visintin, PhD
European Institute Foundation of Oncology
Milan, Italy

Visintin investigates the regulation of the cell cycle—the process by which cells grow, replicate their genetic material, and divide.

Xiaochen Wang, PhD
National Institute of Biological Sciences
Beijing, China

Cell suicide can be good for an organism, but it requires a speedy postmortem cleanup. Wang’s group is studying how cells accomplish this task before the cellular corpses trigger an immune system malfunction.

Karina B. Xavier, PhD
Gulbenkian Science Institute
Oeiras, Portugal

Xavier is listening in on the conversations of bacteria that live in the human gut, eavesdropping that could eventually improve human health.

Nieng Yan, PhD
Tsinghua University
Beijing, China

An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the genes in the human genome make membrane proteins, which play a pivotal role in a range of diseases. By deciphering these proteins’ structures, Yan’s work is answering questions about how these proteins function.

Hong Zhang, PhD
National Institute of Biological Sciences
Beijing, China

For cells to thrive and become the correct cell type during development, they must prevent clumps of proteins from accumulating. Zhang is uncovering the genes responsible for this clearance process.

Bing Zhu, PhD
National Institute of Biological Sciences
Beijing, China

Histones are proteins that package DNA into tight three-dimensional spools—their modification pattern is part of so-called “epigenetic information” that plays a pivotal role in determining what genes are expressed in what cells. Zhu wants to know how epigenetic information is passed between generations of cells.

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