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Peter Baumann named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist

Stowers Institute Associate Investigator Peter Baumann, Ph.D., has been named an Early Career Scientist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). HHMI appointments are among the most competitive and highly sought distinctions in biomedical research.

Dr. Baumann and his team will continue to work in laboratories at the Stowers Institute's Kansas City campus. In addition to his generous Stowers funding, Dr. Baumann will receive substantial annual support from HHMI, allowing him to expand his program by adding new members to the research team and taking on additional projects.

Dr. Baumann was selected from among more than 2,000 candidates. On September 1, 2009, his appointment begins, and he becomes the second Stowers laboratory leader to hold a HHMI position after coming to Kansas City. Olivier Pourqui, Ph.D., Investigator, was appointed in 2005, three years after joining the Stowers Institute. Joan Conaway, Ph.D., and Jerry Workman, Ph.D., held HHMI appointments prior to joining the Stowers Institute in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

A native of Ulm, Germany, Dr. Baumann joined the Institute in 2002 after completing an HHMI postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D., at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Clare Hall (U.K.); a Master's degree at the Wellcome/CRC Institute, University of Cambridge (U.K.); and his Bachelor's degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge (U.K.). Dr. Baumann received a highly competitive Pew Scholar Award in the Biomedical Sciences in 2003 and a Basil O'Connor Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation in 2004.

Since joining the Institute, Dr. Baumann and his research team have conducted research to determine how cells maintain the ends of their chromosomes, called telomeres. Telomeres shorten as we get older, and mutations that result in accelerated shortening have been linked to several degenerative diseases. On the other hand, telomerase, a protein central to telomere elongation, is activated in most cancer cells and is considered a promising target for anticancer drugs. By understanding how telomere lengthening is regulated and how telomeres are prevented from becoming too short, Dr. Baumann's research team hopes to lay the foundation for the development of treatments for cancer as well as degenerative syndromes such as dyskeratosis congenita and aplastic anemia.

Dr. Baumann leads an eight-person team at the Stowers Institute composed of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and scientific staff. Dr. Baumann's laboratory has published ten papers in peer-reviewed journals, including four papers of remarkable influence in the field of chromosome dynamics in the last two years.

"This support from HHMI creates a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our research into new areas while at the same time building on our findings from the past few years," said Dr. Baumann.

"Peter Baumann's HHMI appointment is a significant landmark in his successful career as a laboratory leader, and it is a source of pride for the Stowers Institute," said William B. Neaves, Ph.D., President and CEO. "Selection by the HHMI after rigorous, comprehensive review represents an enormous vote of confidence in a biomedical scientist, and all of us at the Institute are delighted that Dr. Baumann will have the additional resources provided by this appointment to accelerate his innovative research."

Kevin Eggan, Ph.D., Assistant Investigator with the Stowers Medical Institute (SMI), also was named an Early Career Scientist by HHMI. SMI was established in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Jim and Virginia Stowers.

Dr. Baumann also holds an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at The University of Kansas School of Medicine. Learn more about his work at


Contact: Marie Jennings
Stowers Institute for Medical Research

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