Hedvig Tamman was awarded the prestigious EMBO installation grant
The EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) installation grant supports young scientists in establishing a personal research group and laboratory to strengthen life sciences in the countries participating in the grant program. Estonia has been participating in the EMBO installation grant program since 2006. The size of the EMBO installation grant is €50,000 per year.
On January 17, the recipients of this year's EMBO installation grant were announced (11 recipients from seven countries), among whom is Hedvig Tamman, the Research Fellow (Associate Professor in Genetics from February 1, 2023) from IMCB (Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology). The aim of the EMBO installation grant is to enable a young researcher to lay the foundation for his own independent group. In this case (grant topic: The role of stringent response in the phage defence of Pseudomonas putida) the received funding will be used to the study of the relationship between the stringent response of bacteria and bacterial viruses. Stringent response is a strong regulatory response that is triggered by sudden changes, including viral infection of the bacterium.
Stringent response is often the reason why pathogenic bacteria are difficult to eradicate. The basic research carried out as part of this project will provide a better understanding of how bacteria defend themselves against viruses and may in the long term lead to bacteriophage-based solutions to combat bacteria under stress.
Bacterial viruses (bacteriophages or just phages) are the most common form of life on Earth. Their continuous co-evolution with bacteria fine-tunes both, the defense responses of bacteria to viruses and the antibacterial capacity of viruses. The aim of this project is to investigate the participation of one of the main stress responses of the environmental bacterium Pseudomonas putida - the stringent response - in the constant arms race between bacteria and phages.
In this project, a library of bacteriophages infecting P. putida isolated from Estonian environmental samples will be compiled and the dependence of the infectivity of these viruses on the stress response of the bacterium will be studied in more detail, focusing on identifying and understanding phage mechanisms against the stringent response.
“EMBO Installation Grants provide a tremendous opportunity for researchers to embark on a wide-range of ambitious life science projects. The programme supports group leaders in founding and growing their labs, provides mentoring, networking and training opportunities, and also helps build vibrant, interdisciplinary national and international research communities.”
Each group leader receives 50,000 euros annually for three to five years and can also apply for additional grants of up to 10,000 euros per year. Grantees become part of the EMBO Young Investigator Network, which consists of more than 600 current and former EMBO Young Investigators, Installation Grantees and Global Investigators. Benefits include networking, mentoring, and training opportunities, as well as access to core facilities at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.
35,000 euros of the annual payments are provided by funding agencies or ministries in each participating country, and 15,000 euros are provided by EMBC (European Molecular Biology Conference), the EMBO funding body. On behalf of Estonia, funding is provided by the Estonian Research Council.
The new EMBO Installation Grantees will establish laboratories in different European countries. One laboratory will be in Croatia, one in the Czech Republic, one in Estonia, two in Lithuania, two in Poland, two in Portugal, and two in Türkiye. Six of the 11 grantees are female (55%) and five are male (45%). All have spent at least two consecutive years outside the country in which they are setting up their laboratory in the four years preceding their application.
Hedvig Tamman defended her PhD in genetics at IMCB (2016) under the supervision of Associate Professor Rita Hõrak. Her thesis was related to the study of the functionality of bacterial chromosomal toxin-antitoxin systems in the bacterium Pseudomonas putida. In the years 2016 - 2021, she completed a post-doctorate in Belgium (Department of Cellular and Molecular Microbiology, Université libre de Bruxelles), where she was involved in the determination of bacterial stress responses and the structure of several proteins involved in stress responses.
In order to return to Estonia, she received the support of a returning scientist (MOBTP), in whichs he is the responsible executor of the project. She has published 16 scientific publications between 2014 and 2022, 10 of them in the last five years, and many of them in high-level scientific journals such as Molecular Cell, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports. In addition, Hedvig Tamman has experience in teaching at a university and she also supervises students.
Find out more about this year's grantees on the EMBO website.
Interview with Hedvig Tamman on the EMBO website by Adam Gristwood:
Meet EMBO Installation Grantee Hedvig Tamman: Shutting down to survive