Emily Troemel, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, has been honored with a 2013 Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award. Given in honor of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS, this award recognizes early career scientists who have had commendable basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases.
Troemel obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1992, where she performed research in Judith Kimble’s lab, studying GLP-1 Notch signaling in C. elegans. In 1999 she received her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of California, San Francisco. While at UCSF she performed her PhD thesis research in Cori Bargmann’s lab, where she identified C. elegans chemosensory receptors, and used them as tools to decipher principles of information coding, and investigated how neuronal diversity is generated. Bargmann described Troemel as being “imaginative, insightful, and experimentally adept.” After graduate school she spent a year in Charles Zuker’s lab at UC San Diego setting up a system to study visual motion processing. Tromel was then lured to Renovis, a start-up neuroscience biotech company founded by Corey Goodman, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and Tito Serafini in San Francisco. At Renovis she spent several years as a Research Scientist and Project Leader, initially studying neuroscience questions and then turning to questions of inflammation. After Renovis went public, she returned to academic research to study innate immunity and pathogenesis in the tractable host C. elegans, joining Fred Ausubel’s lab at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2005. Ausubel said Tromel “always knew exactly what experiment to do, exactly how to interpret complex data, and exactly where her work fits into the bigger picture of innate immunity or microbial pathogenesis.” During her postdoctoral research she identified a natural pathogen of C. elegans and developed GFP reporters to address questions in innate immunity. With these systems in hand, she began as an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, where she currently teaches. Since starting her own lab she extended her studies of the C. elegans response to bacterial infection and also investigated microsporidia as naturalpathogens of C. elegans, studying both the host response to these pathogens, as well as the genomic basis for their success as a phylum.
For her outstanding work, Troemel has been honored with the 2010-2013 Ray Thomas Edwards Foundation Award, the 2010-2015 David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship, and as the 2010-2013 Searle Scholar. Troemel has an exciting career ahead of her. Joseph Heitman, Duke University, says “her studies have the potential to revolutionize the study of innate immunity using the worm as a model, and in turn provide novel approaches to study the Microsporidia, which are obligate intracellular fungal pathogens whose evolutionary placement has until recently been unresolved.”
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