Meet the 2011 MacArthur Fellows

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. 

Meet this year’s awardees.

NIH to Fund Research into Environmental Stress Biomarkers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will lead a program to give a total of $2.6 million for five or six projects over two years that seek to validate candidate biomarkers and technologies that measure biological responses to chemical toxicants and other environmental stressors.

The specific goal of this research program, which also is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is to validate markers and technologies by using existing epidemiological studies with extensive exposure information.

Called “Validation and Field Testing of Novel Biomarkers of Response to Environmental Stressors,” this grant program will give up to $300,000 in direct costs per year over two years.

The range of biomarkers studied under these grants could include gene expression signatures, protein markers, metabolites, measures of DNA damage, or epigenetic marks, provided that they can be detected in minimally invasive samples and potentially could be scaled up for large-scale studies.

These studies could include pilot testing and validation of biomarkers of response to exposures such as chemical toxicants, primary and secondary tobacco smoke, dietary constituents and contaminants, alcohol, and physiological measures of stress.

Research approaches could include, but are not limited to verifying that the markers or signatures can be detected in multiple populations with similar exposures; evaluating performance of biomarker tools and assays with samples collected under real world conditions; testing candidate markers to understand how biomarkers change over time, and whether a subset of biomarkers represent persistent changes associated with exposure; and comparing results from novel biomarker profiles to current methodologies or existing reference measures, where they are appropriate

NCI Proteomics Push Continues with $120M Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Cancer Institute wants to push forward protein-focused cancer research technologies by investing between $75 million and $120 million in centers that will conduct biomarker discovery, verification, and new cancer proteomics studies.

The Proteome Characterization Centers (PCC) grants program is the second phase in NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer (CPTC) initiative, which was started four years ago to develop technologies for identifying and quantifying proteins that could be useful as cancer biomarkers.

Phase one of the CPTC program established five multidisciplinary centers that showed they could be effective in addressing analytical variability problems in proteomics. Now, the second phase will build a network of centers that will target biomarkers and will aim to improve tools for protein detection, identification, and quantification.

The PCCs will use discovery units and verification units to implement the two-step process in the biomarker development pipeline, and the findings from these studies will be made public through a central data center.

“[We] want to develop a much greater understanding of cancer at the molecular level,” Chris Kinsinger of NCI’s Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research told GenomeWeb Daily News this week.

Biomedical Researchers Invited To Design Experiments For Space Station

 The NIH announced its willingness to fund highly meritorious biomedical experiments that could utilize the unique environment in space and produce breakthroughs to improve human health on Earth.  The International Space Station provides a special microgravity and radiological environment that Earth-based laboratories cannot replicate. Congress opened the U.S. portion of the International Space Station to other federal agencies and university and private sector researchers when it designated the U.S. resources as a National Laboratory in 2005.

The NIH solicitation is the next step in a new partnership to apply the National Laboratory to research that complements NASA’s space exploration efforts.   Biomedical experiments already conducted on the International Space Station have addressed how bone and muscle deteriorate, how humans fight infectious disease, and how cancers grow and spread.

Click here for more information on the NIH-NASA partnership and the funding opportunity announcement.

Click here for more information on the National Laboratory at the International Space Station.