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Vol. LIX, No. 20
October 5, 2007
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O, Pioneers!
NIH Invests in Innovation, New Investigators


  NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) hears from Stanford Uni-versity postdoctoral researcher Dr. John Arthur (c) about Neurogrid, a bioengineering approach to emulating the way neurons compute that is being pursued by 2006 Pioneer Award recipient Dr. Kwabena Boahen (r) of Stanford.  
  NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) hears from Stanford Uni-versity postdoctoral researcher Dr. John Arthur (c) about Neurogrid, a bioengineering approach to emulating the way neurons compute that is being pursued by 2006 Pioneer Award recipient Dr. Kwabena Boahen (r) of Stanford.  
NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni recently made a major investment in the future of science with 5-year grants totaling more than $105 million to 41 exceptionally innovative investigators, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers.

"Novel ideas and new investigators are essential ingredients for scientific progress, and the creative scientists we recognize with NIH Director's Pioneer Awards and NIH Director's New Innovator Awards are well-positioned to make significant-and potentially transformative- discoveries in a variety of areas," he said.

This is the first group of New Innovator Awards and the fourth group of Pioneer Awards. Both programs are part of an NIH Roadmap initiative that tests new approaches to supporting research.

Pioneer Awards support scientists at any career stage, while New Innovator Awards are reserved for new investigators who have not received an R01 or similar grant.

"These awards complement our other special efforts to fund innovative research and support new scientists as they launch their research careers," Zerhouni noted. He announced the 2007 award recipients at the third annual NIH Director's Pioneer Award Symposium, held in the Natcher Conference Center on Sept. 19.

2005 Pioneer Award recipient Dr. Clare Waterman-Storer, who is currently working in the NHLBI intramural program, gives an update on her cell biology research to 2006 award recipient Dr. Rosalind Segal of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and 2007 award recipient Dr. Thomas Clandinin of Stanford University.
2005 Pioneer Award recipient Dr. Clare Waterman-Storer, who is currently working in the NHLBI intramural program, gives an update on her cell biology research to 2006 award recipient Dr. Rosalind Segal of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and 2007 award recipient Dr. Thomas Clandinin of Stanford University.

The 12 new Pioneer Award recipients will each receive $2.5 million in direct costs over 5 years. The 29 New Innovator Award recipients will each receive $1.5 million in direct costs over the same period.

NIH selected the awardees through special application and evaluation processes that engaged 262 experts from the scientific community in identifying the most highly competitive individuals in each pool. The advisory committee to the NIH director performed the final review and made recommendations to Zerhouni based on the evaluations by outside experts and programmatic considerations.

"In addition to supporting outstanding research, these programs represent experiments in new ways of identifying and funding promising but unconventional ideas, especially those from new investigators," Zerhouni said. "The approach is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance the NIH peer review system."

"We hope that these programs also help remind the scientific community, including its newest members, that we encourage investigators to be bold and 'swing for the fences' with their proposals," said Dr. Jeremy Berg, director of NIGMS, which runs the Pioneer and New Innovator Award programs.

Eleven institutes and several OD offices contributed funds to the programs this year. Biographical sketches of the Pioneer Award recipients are at nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer/Recipients07.aspx. Information on winners of the New Innovator Award is at grants.nih.gov/new_investigators/ innovator_award/fy2007_awards.htm. NIH Record Icon

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