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UNC scientists garner new NIH awards for high risk, transformative research

Three scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have received prestigious awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at encouraging "high risk" and innovative research.

Klaus Hahn, Ph.D., and Mark Zylka, Ph.D., have received "Transformative" RO1 awards, while Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., who is also in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, has been granted a Pioneer Award.

The "Transformative" RO1 awards, new to the NIH this year, are named for the Institutes' standard RO1 grants, but without the traditional budget cap or requirement for preliminary results, and with the flexibility to work in large, complex teams. According to the NIH, this means scientists are free to propose new, bold ideas that may require significant resources to pursue.

The new award program was specifically created under the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research to support exceptionally innovative, high risk, original and/or unconventional research projects that have the potential to create or overturn fundamental paradigms. These projects tend to be inherently risky, but if successful can profoundly impact a broad area of biomedical research.

Hahn, who is the Thurman Professor of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, is collaborating with Harvard University's Gaudenz Danuser, PhD, to develop new methods of measuring how information flows through large signaling networks within cells.

"Our goal is to build on our laboratory's expertise in biosensor design and live cell imaging, combined with Dr. Danuser's expertise in image analysis of dynamic cellular processes, to design completely new ways to observe the complex signaling process that take place both within living cells and within larger networks of cells," said Hahn.

According to Hahn, current methods for measuring and imaging cell

Contact: Les Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

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