Sebastian Klinge, assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, has won a National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award. The prestigious award, which is given as a five-year grant of up to $1.5 million, supports early-career investigators whose innovative projects have the potential for unusually high impact. Klinge is one of 48 recipients of the award this year.
Klinge’s work focuses on understanding ribosomes, molecular machines that catalyze protein synthesis in cells, with a particular emphasis on their atomic structure and the process by which they form. Using a combination of yeast genetics and biochemical and structural biology approaches, Klinge studies the structure and function of eukaryotic ribosome assembly. His aim is to elucidate not only the structural anatomy of ribosomal subcomponents, but also the biochemistry of the assembly process itself. Because the ribosome plays a critical role in life, understanding how ribosomes “mature” has the potential to unlock biological secrets that are relevant to studies of genetics and gene regulation.
A native of Hanover, Germany, Klinge received his B.A. in 2005 and his Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Cambridge. Before joining Rockefeller’s faculty in 2013, he conducted postdoctoral work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. In 2014, he was named a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar and received the Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trust Research Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Human Frontier Science Program Career Development Award.
Established in 2007, the Director’s New Innovator Award is part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, supported by the NIH’s Common Fund. This year, 88 investigators received awards for work that has the potential for high impact but may be at a stage too early to easily secure funding. Sohail Tavazoie was the first Rockefeller recipient of the award in 2009. Since then, Daniel Kronauer, Gaby Maimon, and Luciano Marraffini won the award in 2012, followed by Vanessa Ruta in 2013.