Eric Miska wins Hooke Medal for Cell Biology

by Sally March

The British Society for Cell Biology (BSCB) has awarded the Hooke Medal for 2013 to Pembroke Fellow Dr Eric Miska (2006).

The medal, named in honour of natural philosopher and polymath Robert Hooke, is awarded annually to a scientist who is ‘someone who has made an outstanding contribution to UK Cell Biology usually within the first 10 years of establishing their own lab’. Last year’s winner was Dr Holger Gerhardt, who runs the Vascular Biology laboratory at Cancer Research’s London Research Institute.

Dr Miska is a Cancer Research UK Senior Research Fellow and works in the Gurdon Institute, where he has led his own team since 2005. His laboratory is investigating how cells decide to divide to generate all the cells of the body; to become different from each other to form different tissues such as muscle, brain or blood. If cells get these decisions wrong, cancer may be the consequence. His particular focus is a class of small regulatory genes (microRNAs) that act like molecular switches and control many aspects of development and are likely directly involved in human cancer. Dr. Miska played an important role in the initial understanding of the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) by studying what happened when miRNAs were knocked out in a simple organism, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.

In the last few years he has increasingly focussed on the biogenesis and function of another class of small non-coding RNAs the so-called piRNAs, which are bound to the PIWI protein. Dr. Miska has published a number of important papers dealing with aspects of regulatory RNA and his work has been at the forefront of this dynamic area of research.

For further information on Dr Miska’s research, please visit: http://www.gurdon.cam.ac.uk/miska.html

BSCB article on Dr Miska: http://www.bscb.org/?url=meetings/hooke

Photo: Dr Eric Miska