2023 RNA Society/Scaringe Young Scientist Award Winners
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Graduate Student winner: Jonas Tholen

The 2023 award for a graduate student goes to Jonas Tholen,a member of the laboratory of Dr. Wojciech Galej at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble, France. Mr. Tholen investigates the structural basis of intron branch site recognition during pre-mRNA splicing by the human spliceosome, using electron cryo-microscopy of RNA-protein complexes that are epitope tagged through CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. His work includes investigating the biochemical properties of the native 17S U2 snRNP, a component of the spliceosome, and also reconstitution of the binding of a model substrate by the U2 snRNP. Using these approaches, Mr. Tholen has solved several high-resolution structures of the U2 snRNP, discovered two new spliceosome assembly intermediates, and provided novel insight into the mechanism of branch site recognition by the human spliceosome.

Postdoctoral Fellow winner: Charles Bou-Nader

The 2023 award for a post-doctoral scientist goes to Dr. Charles Bou-Nader, a researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Jinwei Zhang at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Bou-Nadercombines crystallography and cryo-EM approaches with biochemical techniques to investigate how structured RNAs interact with their molecular partners. Recently, Dr. Bou-Nader’sresearch has revealed how the HIV-1 Gag viral protein recognizes a specific structure within tRNAs - termed the “elbow” - to regulate the cellular localization of the protein and control virion biogenesis at the membrane of the infected cell. His approaches have also helped uncover the mechanism of R-loop recognition by the monoclonal S9.6 antibody (the main tool used to map these nucleic acid structures in genomes) and how viral RNAs regulate Protein Kinase R activity to evade the host immune response during viral infection.