News - March 13, 2012

Research prize goes to young microbiologist

The Wageningen University Fund (WUF) research prize has been won by microbiology researcher Stan Brouns. He received a certificate and a 2500-euro cheque during the foundation day celebrations last Friday.

Brouns, now an assistant professor in the Laboratory of Microbiology, received the prize for his article 'Small CRISPR RNAs guide antiviral defense in prokaryotes'. This was published in 2008 in Science. According to the panel of judges, the article has resulted in the need for textbooks to be rewritten. In addition, his discovery has also brought forth a patent.
In his article, Brouns described an immune system which some bacteria use to defend themselves against viruses. These bacteria incorporate fragments of the hereditary material in their own genome, as a result of which this immunity becomes heritable and also protects their offspring. The system is therefore good for making industrial bacteria resistant to damaging infections.
The four judges on the panel, which included Rector Magnificus Kropff and Professor Ton Bisseling, were unanimous in their decisions. The WUF research prize is awarded once a year.