New grants totaling $3 million will go to six outstanding early-career scientists, bridging a funding gap to independent biomedical research. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, created the award to encourage early stage researchers who want to discover how our environment influences human health.
The highly competitive grant, known as the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) award, started in 2006, and has become a model for funding emerging scientists, typically in their mid-30s. Traditionally, scientists are awarded their first research grant around the age of 42.
"The ONES funding comes at a critical time in a research career when someone is trying to set up their own lab to pursue their unique ideas," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS director. "These early-career scientists are so innovative and they inspire the entire research community. I believe this program will spur new biomedical research and lead to important medical breakthroughs."
The 2015 ONES awardees will study substances in our environment such as arsenic, ozone, and pollution, and connections to health problems, such as cognitive function, asthma, and DNA damage.
The awardees are as follows:
- Neelakanteswar Aluru, Ph.D., at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, will use zebrafish models to study how early-life exposures to toxic chemicals may lead to developmental disabilities.
- Kara Bernstein, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, will study how errors in DNA repair lead to tumor growth, and how at-risk individuals may be more sensitive to DNA damage.
- Samir Kelada, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will use innovative approaches to identify genes and pathways that play a role in the effect of ozone on asthma.
- Kun Lu, Ph.D., at the University of Georgia, will study the interaction between the gut microbiome and arsenic, a widespread environmental pollutant and known human carcinogen.
- William Mack, M.D., at the University of Southern California, will research how particulate matter exposure can be toxic to blood vessels in the brain, and identify risks to cognitive health in vulnerable populations.
- Dana Miller, Ph.D., at the University of Washington, will explore the long-term effects of toxic substances on basic physiology.
"This talented group of awardees shows tremendous promise," said Gwen Collman, Ph.D., who oversees all NIEHS grants as the director of the Division of Extramural Research and Training. "We believe the ONES grant will provide a firm foundation for building a successful career."
Early stage scientists or new faculty members, who have never received a research project grant, may apply for next year's funding now. For more information, visit http://grants.
NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit http://www.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.
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