Yaowen Wu becomes
Wallenberg Academy

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Read more about the Wallenberg Academy Fellows

How does recycling in the cell works?

September 06, 2016

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have selected Yaowen Wu as a young academy fellow. He will get a funding of 1.5 Million Euros over a five-year period and will be active at the Umeå University.

Yaowen Wu will study how waste is cleaned upped and recycled in living cells by so-called autophagosomes. These organelles deal with other damaged organelles and both with long-lived and aggregated proteins. The formation of autophagosomes is the key process in in autophagy, an evolutionary conserved self-eating function in eukaryotes. This process is linked to cancer, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases.

The discovery of genes that are involved in autophagy was rewarded with 2016’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine , but it is still only little known about the formation of autophagosomes. Yaowen Wu wants to investigate how, and in what circumstances, autophagosomes are formed.

One way to investigate the formation of autophagosome is by selectively perturbing the process of autophagy. Yaowen Wu will therefore equip proteins that are vital to the functioning of autophagosomes with a type of switch, so he can turn their activity on or off. Using these, he will then observe the formation of autophagosomes and investigate how this process is governed naturally.

“The award will give me the opportunity to build up my research in Umeå for long-term exploration of intriguing and fundamental questions on autophagy mechanism. The work would be beneficial for the development of therapeutics against cancer, neurodegeneration and infection. The research lies in the interface between Chemistry and Biomedicine, and hence I hope we can establish the basis for future technology that can be widely applied to biomedical researches.”

About Wallenberg Academy Fellow 
The Wallenberg Academy Fellows is a carreer programme that provides long-term funding for the most promising young researchers of all disciplines to develop their projects. The programme was initiated by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in close collaboration with five royal academies and sixteen universities in Sweden.


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