Martin Gibbs Medal

The Martin Gibbs Medal was instituted by the Society’s executive committee in 1993 to honor Martin Gibbs, editor of Plant Physiology from 1963 to 1992. The Gibbs Medal is presented biennially to an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences. The winner will receive the medal and will be invited to convene a Martin Gibbs Medal Symposium at the annual meeting the following year.

2021 Winner: Jeff Dangl

Jeff Dangl (pictured here with Sarah Grant) is awarded the 2021 Gibbs Medal for his outstanding contributions to our understanding of how plants manage interactions with both pathogenic and mutualistic microorganisms. After receiving his PhD in Genetics from the Stanford University Medical School, Jeff spent 4 years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the Max-Planck-Institüt für Züchtungsforschung, Köln, Germany, moving to become a group leader in the Max-Delbrück Laboratorium in the MPG, Köln. It was here that he started his program to identify disease resistance loci in Arabidopsis. In 1995 Jeff became Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is currently the John N. Couch Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology, Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UNC-CH School of Medicine, and an HHMI-GMBF Plant Science Investigator. Jeff is an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jeff holds an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has won many awards, including the ASPB Stephen A. Hales Prize in 2009. Jeff has made seminal research contributions to our understanding of the molecular players that define the plant immune system, critical to protecting food crops from pathogens. His work led to the first coherent model of the plant immune system, and in fact, the first use of that term that is now found in several Biology textbooks. Jeff’s work on the mechanism of action of NLR proteins (named for their nucleotide binding and leucine-rich repeat domains) that ‘recognize’ pathogen virulence factors (effectors) leading to activation of successful immune responses has guided subsequent discoveries in the mammalian immune system. Jeff’s discovery that NLR proteins can recognize ‘modified-self’ molecules led to the ‘Guard Hypothesis’ of plant defenses. Jeff has additionally been a pioneer defining a new research discipline to understand how the plant microbiome contributes to plant growth and productivity, showing that plants specifically recruit, maintain and balance a taxonomically limited microbiome from native soils. The Martin Gibbs Medal honors “an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences”. Jeff has revolutionized our understanding of plant microbe interactions in ways that have introduced new paradigms across biology.

Richard Dixon, Chair (2018-2023)
Jeff Dangl, Past Winner (2022-2023)
Nicholas Carpita (2023-2025)
Venkatesan Sundaresan (2023-2025)
Sylvia Lee, Staff Liaison