Dr hab. Sebastian Glatt from the JU Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology has received the NCN Award 2021. The National Science Centre decided to distinguish him for a series of papers published in international journals in the area of molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry. The award ceremony took place on 6 October in the Kraków Cloth Hall.
The idea behind the NCN Award is to support the most notable scientists conducting basic research projects in Polish research centres. It was first established in 2013 and is directed to researchers no older than 40. Out of 600 eligible candidates, six finalists were chosen, two from each of the following categories: the humanities, social sciences and art; life sciences; and exact and technical sciences. The final decision was made by a jury made up of representatives of the National Science Centre as well as its founders.
Dr hab. Sebastian Glatt has received an award in the area of life sciences for his breakthrough research on the Elongator. This protein complex is responsible for chemical modifications of tRNA necessary for the stability of proteomes and homeostasis in eukaryotic cells. Dr Glatt’s has led to discovering the structure of the Elongator, which provided valuable insight into its molecular and cellular functions as well as importance for our health.
‘My fascination with biology began in early childhood. I have a passion for trying to understand how the proteins in our bodies are produced in exactly the right place and time, and how this process is affected by diseases. We humans often try to understand things through observation, but in biology, this is more difficult, because the macromolecules that regulate the activity of our cells are so small that we can’t see them with our own eyes. This is why we need structural biology. Our group specialises in studying the three-dimensional structure of proteins and nucleic acids with the use of cryo-electron microscopy and crystallography’, said Dr Glatt. ‘Awards such as this one are presented to individuals, but are the result of teamwork. I’d like to thank all young researchers that worked with me during the last several years as well as other partners. I’d also like to emphasise the role of National Science Centre, which provided funding and support for our research endeavours’, he added.
Dr hab. Sebastian Glatt graduated in Genetics and Microbiology from the University of Vienna in 2004 and obtained his PhD degree from the same university in 2007. In 2008–2015 he conducted research at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Since 2015 he has been working in the JU Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology, where he has served as the Deputy Director for Science since 2019.
Dr Glatt’s research interests have long been focused on complex molecular mechanisms that allow cells to reproduce, adapt to changing environmental conditions and differentiate into specialised cell types by the activation of specific gene expression programmes. His team’s main area of research is related to the structural and functional characteristics of enzymes that modify tRNA molecules and other factors regulating the synthesis of proteins. The cellular mechanisms studied by Dr Glatt are of high clinical relevance and importance as they pave the way for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods.
During his research career, Dr Glatt has already received a number of grants and awards, including those from the Foundation for Polish Science. The ERC grant will support the development of his research funded by the Foundation for Polish Science within the framework of First Team and TEAM-Tech Core Facility programmes. In 2020 he was presented with the City of Kraków Award.