Sophie Martin

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Observing the cell

Sophie Martin is a biologist, born in Switzerland in 1971.

She always felt fascinated by the way in which biological processes are organized spatially within cells.

Her work attempts to shed light on the molecular events that define the organization and development of the cell. She has been working for over fifteen years to understand cellular polarity, in particular the way in which the spatial organization of cells influences their size and division. The model organism she uses for her investigations is the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a single-celled eukaryote fungus that grows to acquires the shape of a bar.

In 2009, Sophie discovered that a kinase enzyme, called Pom1, regulates the progression throughout the cell cycle and forms concentration gradients that originate at each end of the cell. Martin proposed a model that explained how the gradients of Pom1 give spatial information that prevents these yeasts from dividing until they have reached a sufficient size. Her work managed to renew interest in the mechanisms that regulate cell size.

Sophie is Professeure Associée at the Department of Fundamental Microbiology of the University of Lausanne. She has received the European Research Council Award and the EMBO gold medal.

«Mon métier maintient vivante la curiosité d’esprit, la capacité de s’extasier sur des choses simples, qui ne le sont pas vraiment.»