[2016-06-08] The Fernström Committee at the Faculty of Medicine has awarded the Erik K. Fernström prize for 2016 to Nelson Gekara, Group Leader at MIMS and the Department of Molecular Biology. Gekara’s research focuses on the regulation of the innate immune system and the connection to infection and DNA damage.
Since 2010, Nelson Gekara has been Group leader at MIMS in Umeå. He has worked with several model organisms to study how microbes interact with their host and how innate immune responses are generated and regulated.
Nelson Gekara’s team recently demonstrated the importance of DNA damage in the innate immune system. Further they have identified new signalling molecules that control the innate immune system and are involved in the protection against responses from inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatism.
In the prize motivation, the Committee pointed out that Nelson Gekara has had a strong research development since his start as a group leader at MIMS in Umeå. He independently initiated a totally new research area at MIMS and quickly evolved to an established researcher at MIMS. He is currently leading research projects funded by the Swedish Research Council, VR.
Nelson Gekara grew up near Lake Victoria, Kenya. He first studied Biochemistry at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi. As a research assistant at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, he studied infectious diseases in livestock and worked on vaccine strategies against the parasites Trypanosoma and Theileria parva. He continued his studies at the Institute of Animal Pathology, in Bern, Switzerland, where he studied how pregnancy affects the immune system, before moving to do his PhD and postdoctoral studies at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany. On a second postdoc at the University of Cologne, he continued to pursue his interest in the application of genetic approaches to understand the innate immune system.
Nelson Gekara’s award will be highlighted at Umeå University's annual academic ceremony on Saturday, October 22. The Fernström prize ceremony will take place on November 2 at Lund University.
Contact information for Nelson Gekara:
Phone: +46 90 7850820
webpage of Nelson Gekara's research group
About the Fernström Prize:
Shipowner Eric K. Fernström’s Prize for young scientists is given annually at medical schools in Sweden. In Umeå, the prize winner is designated by a special committee, chaired by Dean Diana Berggren.
(Text: Daniel Harju and Eva-Maria Diehl)
(Photo: Mattias Pettersson)