EMBL Director-General receives high German honour: the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse


Berlin, June 2, 2004 The Director-General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Professor Fotis C. Kafatos, today is awarded the prestigious German civil medal of honour, the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse. The honour is given in recognition of his significant contributions to Germany and Europe - encouraging and stimulating top quality scientific research in the life sciences during his years as leader of EMBL. German Federal Research Minister, Frau Edelgard Bulmahn, presents Prof. Kafatos with the award today in a ceremony at the Federal Research Ministry (Berlin).

Appointed Director-General of the EMBL in 1993, Professor Kafatos also leads an active research group at the laboratory. His scientific achievements make him one of the world's most renowned experts in malaria research. Prof. Kafatos was instrumental in establishing the international consortium that determined the mosquito genome sequence in 2002. The consortium developed new approaches to elucidate the genetic basis of interaction between the malaria parasite and its carrier mosquito.

"It's a humbling experience to receive this award from the German government. I feel very honoured," says Prof. Fotis C. Kafatos. "This prestigious award reflects the success of EMBL. Germany, a state deeply committed to the European ideal, is a fine host for the Laboratory, supporting consistently the entire EMBL system. This support is all the more important now, when EMBL must invest in a timely manner in order to address immense new challenges: to elucidate complex biological systems and to orient this understanding to the benefit of society."

Prof. Kafatos has been Full Professor and Department Chairman at Harvard University and at the Universities of Athens and Crete. His distinctions include membership in the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the French Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, as well as honorary doctorates and professorships from prestigious universities. He is also one of three European experts to serve on the Scientific Board of the "Grand Challenges for Global Health" initiative, an international programme funded with $200 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This programme, administered by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in the US (FNIH), aims to use cutting-edge science to overcome roadblocks and foster rapid progress against the major neglected diseases that affect the developing world.

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