20 NIH Scientists Chosen by President Obama For Early Career Awards

By Rhonda J. Miller on December 26, 2013 10:21 AM EST

National Institutes of Health Research
Twenty NIH scientists were named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, to be awarded in White House ceremones in 2014. Top quality medical research, such as that shown in this example of an NIH lab, is critical to improving the current and future health of Americans, NIH said in annoucning the honorees. (Photo: NIH/NIAMS/Bill Branson / Rhonda J. Miller)

Twenty scientists from the National Institutes of Health have been chosen by President Obama as recipients of this year's Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE, the NIH announced this week.

"This presidential award is extremely prestigious and recognizes the achievements of scientists early in their career," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. "These scientists have demonstrated the value of their current work, along with the promise of future discoveries, to improve the health of our nation."

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The honorees cover a range of medical specialties from microRNA to drugs affecting sleep to ethno-cultural barries to disease management. Of the 20 NIH honorees, 17 are new investigators working at institutions around the nation, while the other three have positions in the NIH Intramural Programs. The NIH recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers are:

  • Dr. Debra Auguste of the City College of New York for research on personalized therapeutics for inhibiting breast cancer metastasis;
  • Dr. Jeremy Clare of the University of Washington for studies of neural mechanisms of risk preference following adolescent alcohol exposure;
  • Dr. Damien Fair of Oregon Health and Science University for studies characterizing mechanistic heterogeneity across ADHD and autism;
  • Dr. Thomas Fazzio of the University of Massachusetts Medical  School for work on elucidating the roles of chromatin regulation in embryonic stem cell self-renewal;
  • Dr. Jessica Gill of the National Institute of  Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health for an investigation of predictors of neurological deficits and PTSD onset following traumatic brain injury;
  • Dr. Andrew Goodman of Yale University School of Medicine for research on defining the causes and consequences of interpersonal microbial variation;
  • Dr. Xue Han of Boston University for research on light-actuatable nanorobots for molecular uncaging;
  • Dr. Susan Harbison of the National Heart. Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health for studies on the impact of drugs on genetic networks affecting sleep;
  • Dr. Richard Ho of Vanderbilt University Medical Center for studies on hepatic OATP drug transporters and chemotherapy disposition;
  • Dr. Shingo Kajimura of the University of California at San Francisco for studies on the molecular control of brown adipose cell fate and energy metabolism;
  • Dr. Young Kim of the Yale University School of Medicine for studying the roles of environmental risks and GEX in increasing Autism Spectrum Disorder prevalence;
  • Dr. Todd Macfarian of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health for  research on mechanisms of mammalian epigenome reporgramming;
  • Dr. Gaby Maimon of Rockefeller University for work on linking genes to higher brain function by way of cellular electrophysiology;
  • Dr. Sandra McAllister of Harvard Medical School for studies to understand how breast cancers activate and respond to the systemic environment;
  • Dr. Quyen Nguyen of the University of California at San Diego for testing fluorescently labeled probes for nerve imaging during surgery;
  • Dr. Sallie Permar of Duke University School of Medicine for studies of maternal immune protection against congential CMV infection;
  • Dr. Katherine Radek of Loyola University Chicago for studies linking nicotinic activation with skin innate immunity and atopic dermatitis;
  • Dr. Katherine Rauen of the University of California at San Francisco for studies on the role of germline mutations in the Ras/MAPK pathway on skeletal myogenesis;
  • Dr. Ida Spruill of the Medical University of South Carolina for work on ethno-cultural barriers to health literacy and disease management in African-Americans;
  • Dr. Andrew Yoo of Washington University School of Medicine for studies of microRNA and neural factor-mediated direct reprogramming of cell fates.

The 20 NIH scientists were among 102 researchers across a wide range of expertise, including agriculure, aeronautics and energy, named on Dec. 23 as recipients of the PECASE awards, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. 

"The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead," said President Obama, the News Democrat reported. "We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America's global leadership for many years to come."  President Obama will present the awards at a White House ceremony at a date to-be-determined in 2014.

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