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Dr. Xiaojing Cong was awarded with 2013 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad

July 18, 2014 - Dr. Xiaojing Cong was honored with the 2013 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad. The award recognizes exceptional scientific achievements during doctoral studies and is assigned annually to 500 outstanding Chinese students abroad who are not funded by the Chinese government.

Dr. Cong was a PhD student in Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzanti (SISSA, Trieste, Italy) co-supervised by Prof. Paolo Carloni. A substantial part of Dr. Cong's thesis was carried out at the German Research School for Simulation Sciences and Forschungszentrum Jülich. In her thesis, Dr. Cong performed an exhaustive, genome-wide investigation in the structural properties of the prion protein and over forty of its pathogenic mutations. To this aim, she employed all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, as well as a powerful Monte Carlo simulation approach, PROFASI, developed Jülich Supercomputing Center by Dr. Sandipan Mohanty. Dr. Cong’s work discovered distinct effects of these mutations on the molecular structure of the prion protein, which indicates different roles of the mutations in prion diseases. The findings may have broad implications in the pathogenic protein-misfolding problem that commonly occurs in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.