4. July 2023

Molecular biologist Dalibor Blazek was one of the 69 new members of the European Molecular Biology Organisation EMBO that were officially announced today. Four new members are based in the Czech Republic. EMBO is an organisation of leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond. There are more than 2 000 members in the prestigious EMBO community worldwide. Seven out of all 16 members based in the Czech Republic are from CEITEC Masaryk University (MUNI).

Dalibor Blazek leads a research group at CEITEC MUNI, that studies regulation of gene expression. The team focuses on the functions of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) in the regulation of transcription and RNA splicing. Last year, Dalibor Blazek and his team made a very important discovery determining the role of CDK11 in RNA splicing, a crucial step in controlling gene expression. Controlling splicing through CDK11 inhibition may also lead to therapeutic applications in the future. This discovery made it into the world´s most prestigious scientific journal Nature. “Being an EMBO member will be an opportunity for me to be in close contact with the best molecular biologists and also a chance to influence the direction of European molecular biology,” said Dalibor Blazek.

This year's awardees have been recognised for contributions spanning the spectrum of life science research, including work that has demystified the immune system, advanced understanding of our senses, and facilitated innovative approaches to vaccine development. “These remarkable scientists have unravelled molecular secrets of life, deepened our understanding of health and disease, and are paving the way for further discoveries and innovations. Their achievements reinforce the critical role that life science research plays in the lives of citizens across Europe and the world,” said EMBO Director Fiona Watt.

This year sees 60 members and nine associate members elected to the EMBO Membership, of which 35 are women (51%) and 34 are men (49%). The newly elected members and associate members reside in more than 20 countries. The 60 new EMBO Members are based in 17 Member States of the EMBC, the intergovernmental organisation that funds the main EMBO Programmes and activities. Four new EMBO members are based in the Czech Republic: Dalibor Blazek, David Stanek, Hana Hanzlikova, and Julius Lukes.

The new members join a community of more than 2,000 leading life science experts. They take their place alongside 91 Nobel laureates who have been elected to EMBO Membership. Members provide guidance and support for EMBO activities, for example by evaluating funding applications and serving on EMBO Council and Committees. New members are nominated and elected by the existing EMBO Membership. EMBO will formally welcome the new members at the annual Members’ Meeting in Heidelberg, Germany, between 25-27 October 2023.

Dalibor Blazek is the seventh EMBO member from the CEITEC MUNI scientific community. Besides Sarka Pospisilova, who has been elected last year, the director of the CEITEC consortium Pavel Tomancak has been an EMBO member since 2016, followed by the election of Mary O´Connell in 2017Stepanka Vanacova in 2018, Karel Riha in 2020, and Jiri Fajkus in 2021. CEITEC MUNI is the institute with the highest number of EMBO members in the Czech Republic.

An online directory listing all EMBO Members and Associate Members, their affiliations, and subject areas is available here.

About Dalibor Blazek

Dr Dalibor Blazek is a senior research group leader at CEITEC MUNI and a highly accomplished researcher in the field of molecular biology and gene expression regulation. Dalibor Blazek’s main research focus is the role of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) in regulating gene expression, particularly in transcription and RNA splicing of protein-coding genes. Last year, Dalibor Blazek and his team made a very important discovery about a previously unknown RNA splicing mechanism, which is crucial for controlling gene expression. Modulating splicing through CDK11 inhibition may also lead to therapeutic applications in the future. This discovery made it into the world´s most prestigious scientific journal Nature.

He obtained his PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from VFU, Brno, Czech Republic. Dalibor Blazek gained valuable international research experience during his seven years long research postdoctoral stay at the University of California, San Francisco, USA. In 2011, Dalibor Blazek joined the newly founded CEITEC in Brno, Czech Republic. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards for his outstanding contributions to scientific research. He has been awarded the CEITEC Award multiple times for key publications in the field, MUNI Scientist Award, Masaryk University Rector's Award, and Marsha Rivkin Ovarian Cancer Pilot Study Award. He has presented his work at esteemed venues such as the RNA Club in Cambridge, UK, Cold Spring Harbor Asia Meeting at RNA Biology in Awaji, Japan, and the RNA Society Meeting in Krakow, Poland, among others.

In addition to his research endeavours, Dalibor Blazek has actively contributed to the scientific community through his role as a reviewer for various journals and grant funding agencies. He has also provided consultations for biotech companies, lending his expertise to advance their research and development efforts. Furthermore, he has served on PhD defence committees and thesis advisory committees, demonstrating his commitment to mentoring and shaping the future of scientific research. He has also been involved in teaching activities and organising courses for students at Masaryk University.

With an impressive publication record in peer-reviewed journals and a significant number of citations, Dalibor Blazek's research has had a profound impact on the field of molecular biology and gene expression regulation. Moreover, his discoveries revealed CDK11 and CDK12 as promising targets for splicing- and transcription-modifying cancer therapeutics. In 2023, Dalibor Blazek became an EMBO member, a prestigious recognition of his significant contribution to the field of life sciences.

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