Congratulations to Ireneusz (Irek) Gorniak, recipient of a highly competitive fellowship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF), a non-profit established in 1983 for the “exclusive and direct promotion of basic research in biomedicine” through a program that awards PhD fellowships to “outstanding junior researchers who wish to carry out an ambitious scientific PhD project…” Irek is a student in the Biophysics Graduate Program in the laboratory of Jochen Zimmer who, interestingly, was the recipient of a BIF fellowship when he was conducting his own graduate work. Irek’s research focuses on the synthesis of hyaluronan, an essential component of the extracellular matrix that impacts biological processes such as cell migration, proliferation and adhesion. Hyaluronan production is achieved by an elegant enzyme system that synthesizes hyaluronan via its cytosolic domain and simultaneously translocates it across the plasma membrane through a channel formed by its membrane-embedded region. Using a robust set of biochemical and biophysical techniques, Irek will examine the structure and function of this enzyme, thus providing unprecedented insights into the biosynthesis of one of the most abundant extracellular polysaccharides in the human body as well as establishing the molecular basis for understanding its function in health and disease. After completing his PhD, Irek hopes to go on to a postdoc position at a top university with an ultimate goal of finding a position in the private sector.