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Vol. LIX, No. 18
September 7, 2007

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New Class To Be Announced
Pioneer Award Winners To Report Progress, Sept. 19

Some of the most innovative researchers in the NIH portfolio will be gathering on Wednesday, Sept. 19, to report their progress since receiving the NIH Director's Pioneer Award. The third annual Pioneer Award Symposium, held this year in Natcher Conference Center, will showcase a wide range of research-from biophysics to neuroscience-that is pushing the frontiers of biomedical knowledge.

The Pioneer Award is a key component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to transform the nation's medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. It provides a framework of the priorities that NIH must address in order to optimize its entire research portfolio and lay out a vision for a more efficient and productive system of medical research.

"The Pioneer Award is the flagship for NIH efforts to encourage applicants to submit their most innovative, out-of-the-box proposals, even if they carry a greater-than-usual risk," said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

The program has been praised and emulated, most recently by the Department of Defense, which announced plans in July to launch its own effort modeled on the Pioneer Award.

"The Pioneer Award symposium is fast becoming an NIH tradition and is a wonderful opportunity to sample a great variety of cutting-edge science in a single day," added Zerhouni.

The event will start at 8:15 a.m. with introductory remarks by Zerhouni and Dr. Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which runs the Pioneer Award program for NIH. Zerhouni will announce the 2007 Pioneer Award recipients and then the 13 recipients of Pioneer Awards in 2006 will present their work. From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the 2004, 2005 and 2006 awardees will discuss their research during a poster session and concurrent reception.

The poster presenters will include:

  • Dr. Stephen R. Quake of Stanford University, who is developing techniques for measuring individual molecules and for moving minuscule volumes of liquid for use in characterizing gene expression in individual cells and building chips for culturing cells
  • Dr. Leda Cosmides of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is using a computational approach for understanding motivation and kinship relationships
  • Dr. Larry Abbott of Columbia University, who is using computer modeling and simulation to understand neural circuits
  • Dr. Vicki L. Chandler of the University of Arizona, who studied mechanisms controlling gene expression in plants for many years and is now searching for similar mechanisms in humans.

Attendance at the symposium is free and registration is not required. For an agenda, see

Class of '06 Pioneer Awardees To Lecture

The 2006 Pioneer Award recipients who will speak at the Sept. 19 symposium and the titles of their talks are:

  • Karla Kirkegaard, Stanford University School of Medicine – Dominant Drug Targets in RNA Viruses
  • Evgeny A. Nudler, New York University School of Medicine – New Approaches to Fight Bacterial Infections
  • David A. Relman, Stanford University – It’s a Jungle in There: Explorations of the Human Microbiome
  • Kwabena A. Boahen, Stanford University – Neurogrid: Emulating a Million Neurons in the Cortex
  • Younan Xia, University of Washington – Putting Nanostructures to Work for Biomedical Research
  • Arup K. Chakraborty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Understanding Adaptive Immunity and Its Aberrant Regulation: A Crossroad of the Physical, Life and Engineering Sciences
  • Lila M. Gierasch, University of Massachusettsat Amherst – Moving the Protein Folding Problem from the Test Tube to the Cell
  • Gary J. Pielak, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Protein Biophysics Under Physiological Conditions
  • Thomas Kodadek, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas – Monitoring the Immune System with Synthetic Molecule Microarrays: A New Route to Biomarker Discovery
  • Rosalind A. Segal, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Proteoglycan Interactions with Sonic Hedgehog Are Selectively Required for Mitogenic Responses
  • James L. Sherley, Boston Biomedical Research Institute – Making Human Adult Stem Cell Expansion Routine
  • Rebecca W. Heald, University of California, Berkeley – Elucidating Mechanisms of Intracellular Scaling
  • Cheng Chi Lee, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – Suspended Animation of Non-hibernating Mammals

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