Gijsbert Grotenbreg is named NRF Research Fellow

February 15, 2008

Tags: Ploegh LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Gijsbert Grotenbreg, a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Whitehead Member Hidde Ploegh, has been selected by Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF)  as part of an inaugural group of research fellows.  One of ten scientists chosen world-wide by the NRF, Grotenbreg will receive up to $1.5 million (U.S.) in funding over three years in support of his work that combines synthetic organic and biochemistry methods to address important questions in immunology.

Beginning in May 2007, 18 candidates were selected from around 150 applicants world-wide to interview with the NRF’s Scientific Advisory Board.  Ten were then selected to be among the first group of NRF fellows. “The quality of the candidates was excellent and we’re very enthusiastic about those who were finally selected,” says Dr. Curtis Carlson, co-chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board.

“I congratulate Gijsbert on this unique opportunity to jump start his career as an independent scientist,” says Hidde Ploegh.

Grotenbreg began his postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in Boston with Hidde Ploegh and has continued work in Ploegh’s lab at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.  His primary interest concerns the role of proteins created by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene family in eliciting immune responses against infectious agents.

Studies that attempt to correlate disease susceptibility with genetic background have largely focused on the MHC.  In Singapore, Grotenbreg will continue his work with MHC molecules, in research that aims to provide insights about the prevalence of Dengue virus and respiratory syncytial virus in Asian populations.

Additionally, Grotenbreg is interested more generally in exploring the mechanisms that drive pathogen virulence and the host’s immune response. Working at the interface of chemistry, biology and immunology, he combines methods such as organic synthesis, protein chemistry, mass spectrometry and molecular and cellular biochemistry techniques to create diagnostic tools and small molecule modulators of complex biological systems. Examples of this include the development of novel methods for the identification and retrieval of cells of the immune system, as well as expanding the breadth and scope of recently developed protein labeling strategies.

Singapore’s NRF sets the country’s direction for research and development. It was given a five-year budget of $5 billion (Singapore) in 2006 to achieve this mission.

Written by Cristin Carr

Gijsbert Grotenbreg

Postdoc Gijsbert Grotenbreg is the recipient of up to $1.5 million in funding from Singapore’s National Research Foundation.

Image: Ellewien Grotenbreg-Le Duc

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