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HHMI's $20M in International Early Career Awards Fund 'Omics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has just awarded $20 million in new research grants to 28 young researchers around the world, including scientists pursuing a range of projects involving genomics and proteomics projects, HHMI said today.

The Early Career Scientist awards provide $650,000 over five years to fund research and equipment purchases to investigators who have run their own labs for less than five years.

This group of scientists, selected from 760 applicants, includes seven researchers from China, five each from Portugal and Spain, and others based in nine other nations.

"This program is about building connections internationally," HHMI Scientific Officer Edwin McCleskey said in a statement. "We have chosen talented people who we feel can build connections with our scientists."

"These are the people who, 10 years from now, we expect will be the scientific leaders in their countries," added HHMI President Robert Tjian. "Some young scientists really want to succeed in the scientific arena but see no opportunity to do that in their own countries," he said. "We hope this program will help change that."

The researchers are engaged in a wide array of research approaches aimed at solving important medical problems.

Pedro Carvalho at Barcelona's Center for Genomic Regulation will study the mechanisms by which cells cope with misfolded proteins.

Also at the Barcelona center Fyodor Kondrashov will study how genetic mutations and copy variations produce changes that are selected for over time, and eventually affect an organism's biological fitness and function.

Óscar Fernández-Capetillo, at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid is studying the DNA damage that occurs when cells replicate in order to understand other issues, such as cancer and aging.

José García Pérez, a researcher at Pfizer-University of Granada-Junta de Andalucía Center for Genomics and Oncological Research in Granada, Spain is studying how the movement of mobile DNA affects the human genome.

At the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Rodrigo Gutiérrez will conduct research into the gene networks involved in plant growth and developmental adaptations in response to nutritional signals.

Nieng Yan, a scientist at Beijing's Tsinghua University, will study the structure of membrane proteins, which are involved in a variety of diseases. Its estimated that 20 to 30 percent of genes in the human genome make membrane proteins.

At China's National Institute of Biological sciences, also in Beijing, investigator Hong Zhang will seek to identify the genes involved in a process by which cells prevent clumps of proteins from accumulating during cellular development.

Also at the National Institute of Biological Sciences, researcher Bing Zhu will study how epigenetic information is passed between generations of cells and how histones are involved in this process.

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