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UCSF Tops California Universities with Four NIH Director's New Innovator Awards

By Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe | October 1, 2010

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) on September 30 announced 52 highly competitive awards for high-risk, high-payoff research for young biomedical scientists, and UCSF tops California institutions with four recipients.

The four recipients of the NIH Director's New Innovator Awards will use their new funds to further understanding of cancer, autism, stem cells and the potential for microbes to yield new drugs. Each individual award covers up to $1.5 million in research costs over five years.

The recipients of the new innovators awards are:

  • Laura Weiss, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry;

  • Diana Laird, PhD, an assistant professor in residence in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine;

  • Michael Fischbach, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences; and

  • Ophir Klein MD, PhD, faculty member in the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine and director of the Craniofacial and Mesenchymal Biology (CMB) Program.

According to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, "The NIH is pleased to be supporting early-stage investigators from across the country who are taking considered risks in a wide range of areas in order to accelerate research. We look forward to the results of their work."

As the agency's website explains, the NIH Director's New Innovator Award program is "designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career.

"The procedure for evaluating applicants' qualifications is distinct from the traditional NIH peer review 'study section' process and will emphasize the individual's creativity, the innovativeness of the research approaches, and the potential of the project, if successful, to have a significant impact on an important biomedical or behavioral research problem."

Read more at Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe