Two intramural scientists and 10 grantees are among the 56 researchers
who have received the 2005 Presidential Early Career Awards for
Scientists and Engineers, the nation's highest honor for professionals
at the outset of their independent research careers. The honorees
were feted July 26 at a ceremony presided over by John H. Marburger
III, science advisor to the President and director of the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
|Dr. Sohyun Ahn, principal investigator in the unit on developmental
neurogenetics, Laboratory of Mammalian Genes and Development,
||Dr. Daniel Appella, an investigator
with the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, NIDDK
The intramural scientists are Dr. Sohyun Ahn of the Laboratory
of Mammalian Genes and Development, NICHD, and Dr. Daniel Appella,
an investigator with the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, NIDDK.
Ahn, principal investigator in the unit on developmental neurogenetics
in her lab, works on adult neural stem cells and the way they are
regulated in the mature brain. She focuses on Sonic Hedgehog-responding
cells in the mouse forebrain. Sonic Hedgehog signaling is involved
in various aspects of embryonic development; Ahn's study of the
behavior of neural stem cells provides in vivo evidence
that they self-renew and generate multiple cell types. "We are
just starting out here," she says; her lab renovation was completed
in March 2006. She sees the PECASE as "an honor, a pat on the back,
hoping we have the same potential to do as well as or better than
we've done up to now."
Appella is a synthetic organic chemist working at the interface
of chemistry and biology. "In a nutshell," he explains, "I make
molecules with biological activity, and one reason NIH is a great
environment is that there are lots of opportunities to test them." One
class of these molecules binds selectively with DNA and RNA sequences.
He is trying to couple this with a very sensitive detection of
pathogens — in particular, anthrax. He also makes molecules
targeted to HIV as well as cancer. "Chemistry could have a great
impact on many aspects of the intramural program," he says. "In
general, chemical approaches provide a way to start thinking about
new therapies and treatments, which could help in the translational
aspects of the work at NIH."
The grantees include Drs. Karl Deisseroth of Stanford, Kathryn
Derose of RAND Corp., Debra Furr-Holden of Pacific Institute for
Research and Evaluation, Nace Golding of the University of Texas,
Beatriz Luna of the University of Pittsburgh, Tannishtha Reya of
Duke University, Kevin Sanbonmatsu of Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Melanie Sanford of the University of Michigan, Neal Silverman of
the University of Massachusetts and Bruce Yu of the University
The PECASE awards, established in 1996, honor the most promising
researchers in the nation within their fields. Nine federal departments
and agencies annually nominate scientists and engineers whose work
shows exceptional promise. Participating agencies award these researchers
up to 5 years of funding to further their investigation.