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NIH Awards $138M for 'Deep Innovation,' Including Genomics, Proteomics Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health this morning named the winners of two ambitious science programs under its Roadmap for Medical Research — the NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards and New Innovator Awards.
NIH will grant $138 million to 47 scientists under these programs, which aim to stimulate and sustain “deep innovation,” NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said in a statement. Many of the awards will go to molecular biologists studying genomics and proteomics.
“These highly creative researchers are tackling important scientific challenges with bold ideas and inventive technologies that promise to break through barriers and radically shift our understanding,” Zerhouni added.
The Pioneer Awards provide $2.5 million over five years and the New Innovator Awards provide $1.5 million over five years. The Pioneer program supports investigators of any age group, while the New Innovators program is limited to early-career investigators who have yet to win an NIH research grant.
"These programs are central elements of NIH efforts to encourage and fund especially novel investigator-initiated research, even if it might carry a greater-than-usual degree of risk of not succeeding,” Zerhouni said.
Pioneer Award winners involved in ‘omics research include the following:
  • James Chen, an assistant professor of chemical and systems biology at Stanford University, will develop and use synthetic probes to examine the regulation of embryonic development at the molecular level.
  •  James Eberwine, co-director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, will use groups of RNA molecules to modify cellular properties.
  • Bruce Hay, an associate professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology, will study genes that could be used to help block the transmission of malaria.
  • Aviv Regev, an assistant professor of biology at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, will study how regulatory networks that control cell function change over time in development, disease, and evolution.
  • Saeed Tavazoie, an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton University, will focus on intracellular networks that allow microbes to carry out cognitive behavior.
  • Alice Ting, an associate professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will develop new technologies to image and study proteins in living cells.
  • Alexander Van Oudenaarden, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will study how random variables are involved in gene expression during cellular development and specialization.
New Innovator Award recipients involved in ‘omics research include the following scientists:  
  • Chay Kuo, an assistant professor of cell biology and pediatrics at Duke University, will develop new genetic and chemical screening approaches in mice to identify signals regulating repair and remodeling after brain injuries.
  • Ken-Ichi Noma, a professor in gene expression and regulation at the Wistar Institute, will develop a new methodology top map the three-dimensional structure of the human genome as a means of identifying the molecular basis for many diseases, including various cancers.
  • Samara Reck-Peterson, an assistant professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, will blend genetics and biophysics to study molecules that control how other molecules are moved around within cells.
  • William Shih, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will develop atomic-resolution protein membrane imaging tools to help in drug development.
  • Jue Wang, an assistant professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, will work to identify new ways that DNA is copied.
  • Joseph Wu, an assistant professor of medicine and radiology at Stanford University, will develop microRNA-based approaches for reprogramming induced pluripotent stem cells.
  • Julia Zeitlinger, an assistant investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, will study the relationship between the DNA-packaging state of a cell and its developmental potential.

Complete details on all the Pioneer Award recipients are here, and New Innovator Award recipients are here

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