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Three molecular biologists receive the prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship

Narcis Adrian Petriman, Ronja Driller and Jan Heiner Driller from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University receive the highly prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. It is the first time that the Department obtains three fellowships in one application round.

The three recipients of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual fellowship (from left): Narcis Petriman, Ronja Driller and Jan Heiner Driller. Photo: Lisbeth Heilesen

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships are among Europe’s most competitive and prestigious awards, aimed at supporting the best and most promising scientists. Established in 1996, the fellowship aim to foster the career development and further training of excellent researchers in a close collaboration with a prominent host group. The mentors for Narcis, Ronja and Jan are Associate Professor Esben Lorentzen, Professor Poul Nissen, and Associate Professor Bjørn Panyella Pedersen, respectively, all from the Section of Structural Biology.
Professor Gregers Rom Andersen, the Head of the Section of Structural Biology, is very pleased and proud:
 “I am astonished that we have been capable of attracting these three fellowships in the same round, I think that is unique. To me, it is also a clear sign that Structural Biology at our Department is highly attractive as a host institution for these prestigious European fellowships and that we study challenging biological problems of high general interest. These three fellowships and the results coming from them will beyond doubt further strengthen our reputation as a great place for structural biology research”.
Narcis Petriman is working as a postdoc in Esben Lorentzen's laboratory, where his project aims at elucidating the general architecture and the mechanism of action for an essential protein complex called the intraflagellar machinery. This molecular machine builds up cilium, a hair-like structure presented at the surface of eukaryotic cells that allow motility, fluid flow and complex inter- and intracellular signalling events.

Ronja Driller is working as a postdoc in Poul Nissen’s laboratory, where she is investigating the structure and function of human and yeast P5-ATPases. Despite their physiological importance (malfunctions are associated with parkinsonism and language disorders in human), there is very limited knowledge about the actual function and substrates of P5-ATPases. Ronja is benefiting from the recent advances in single-particle Cryo-EM and AU’s iNANO Cryo-EM facility to study these proteins in more detail.
Jan Heiner Driller is working as a postdoc in Bjørn Panyella Pedersen’s laboratory, where his project deals with biochemical and structural studies of choline transporters from the choline transporter-like family (CTL). Choline is an essential nutrient necessary for the synthesis of membrane lipids, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and the indispensable methyl donor betaine. The mechanisms of substrate recognition and transport remains elusive and Jan’s research aims to clarify this key aspect of choline metabolism in eukaryotes.
On the personal level, there is also a lot to celebrate, since Ronja and Jan are married, and have been in direct competition with each other. "As we both aim for a research career, we are extremely happy that we both succeeded in getting a fellowship that is so hard to get," says Ronja Driller. The couple relocated to Aarhus in May last year together with their three children, who “have also settled in nicely and love being in Denmark”, Ronja adds.

For further information, please contact

Narcis Adrian Petriman - narcispetriman@mbg.au.dk
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University  

Ronja Driller - rd@mbg.au.dk
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics/DANDRITE
Aarhus University
Jan Heiner Driller - jhd@mbg.au.dk
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University