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Awards & Honors

IMBA - Group Leader Kikuë Tachibana elected new EMBO member

Vienna, 14 May 2018 – As EMBO announced today, Kikuë Tachibana –group leader at IMBA – was elected to its membership, joining the circle of the best researchers in Europe and around the world.

Kikuë Tachibana has pioneered mechanistic cell biology and studies of spatial chromatin organization in one-cell embryos or zygotes. With her research, Kikuë has been rigorously exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying the mammalian oocyte-to-zygote transition, where she focuses on the fundamental questions of how chromatin is reorganized and reprogrammed after fertilization. Kikuë has discovered that erasure of the epigenetic memory of sperm chromatin is monitored by a surveillance mechanism that ensures reprogramming occurs within one cell cycle.  Kikuë is also deeply committed to unravel the molecular causes of the maternal age effect, which is the increase in trisomic pregnancies with maternal age, and aims to provide scientific insights that have potential applications for this rising societal challenge. 
Currently she is heading an intercontinental consortium, to unravel the mechanisms of reprogramming to totipotency, the potential to give rise to every cell type in the body.

About Kikuë Tachibana 
Kikuë was educated in Austria, Japan and the UK. She obtained a PhD with Ron Laskey in cell cycle and cancer research from Cambridge University. She continued her postdoctoral research in Kim Nasmyth’s lab in Oxford, where she developed an assay that pioneered the use of TEV protease technology in the mouse to study cohesin in female germ cells. Since November 2011, Kikuë is a group leader at IMBA. 2013 she received an ERC Starting Grant for "Chromosome inheritance from mammalian oocytes to embryos”. 2016 she was elected as EMBO YIP. 2017 she received the prestigious Walther Flemming Medal and could secure a grant by the “the Herzfelder Family Foundation” issued by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). 2018 she received a prestigious HFSP program grant, worth 1.2 million dollars, to pinpoint the mechanisms of reprogramming to totipotency.

More than a third of IMBAs faculty are full EMBO members
“I am delighted and feel honoured to have been elected as an EMBO member”, says Kikuë Tachibana, one of the youngest EMBO members. Apart from junior group leader Kikuë Tachibana, all IMBA senior scientists are full EMBO members: Josef Penninger (since 2008), Jürgen Knoblich (since 2002), Daniel Gerlich (since 2017) and Julius Brennecke (since 2014). An online directory with all existing and new EMBO Members is available at

About EMBO
EMBO is an organization of more than 1700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information, and help build a European research environment where scientists can achieve their best work. For more information: