1 October

Sanne Boersma wins International Birnstiel Award

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Sanne Boersma, PhD student in the lab of Marvin Tanenbaum and Oncode researcher, is among the six winners of the 2021 International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Studies in Molecular Life Sciences. This prize is awarded to accomplished and talented young scientists. At a ceremony later this year, the awardees will receive a certificate, trophy, and prize of 2,000 Euro.

Since its endowment in 2019, the International Birnstiel Award is an annual celebration of outstanding achievements by doctoral students in molecular life sciences. It is awarded by the Max Birnstiel Foundation and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology.

The competition for the Birnstiel Award 2021 was very strong: more than 100 institutions followed the call to nominate their best PhD student of the previous year. Nominations came from many leading research institutions, with an almost global spread – Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. “I am very honored that the Hubrecht Institute has nominated me and that I have been selected for the Birnstiel Award,” says Boersma.

About her research

For her PhD, Sanne Boersma has worked in the field of live-cell single-molecule imaging applied to virology to investigate early RNA virus infections as well as their competition with the host cell. RNA viruses are widespread pathogens with a big impact on society.

An infection typically starts with a single virus entering a host cell, where it multiplies by producing viral proteins and replicating its genome. At the same time, the host cell attempts to inhibit the virus and the outcome of an infection is therefore determined by a competition between the virus and the host. As traditional techniques lack sensitivity to study the early infection, Sanne Boersma developed live-cell single-molecule imaging assays to study the replication of RNA viruses. These new methods revealed substantial cell-to-cell differences at the onset of an infection, can identify bottlenecks for a successful infection, and can uncover how and when antiviral responses counteract an infection.

This news item was adapted from the news item by Oncode Institute.