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M. D. Anderson scientist wins NIH New Innovator Award
Date:9/25/2009

HOUSTON - A unique approach to understanding how cells develop resistance to drugs has won a scientist at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Gbor Balzsi, Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Systems Biology, will receive $1.5 million over five years under the highly competitive program. The NIH announced awards Thursday in three prestigious programs that fund bold ideas with the potential to speedily translate research into improved human health.

"Therapy fails when cancer cells or disease-causing microbes become resistant to drugs. We will apply new, non-conventional methods to control expression of a drug-resistance gene in cells that are then treated with chemotherapy," Balzsi, said. "We expect to discover new mechanisms underlying the emergence of drug resistance, which could improve treatment of cancer and of microbial infections as well."

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the winners of: the NIH Director's Transformative R01 (T-R01) Awards, Pioneer Awards, and New Innovator Awards all supported by the NIH Common Fund's Roadmap for Medical Research.

"The appeal of the Pioneer, New Innovator, and now the T-R01 programs, is that investigators are encouraged to challenge the status quo with innovative ideas, while being given the necessary resources to test them," Collins said.

Balzsi, is the first winner from M. D. Anderson.

"These are highly competitive awards for the most innovative science; therefore, being chosen as a recipient is a significant accomplishment," said M. D. Anderson Provost and Executive Vice President Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. "Balzsi's research concept is exciting and holds promise for improving our ability to adjust very specific cellular levels of a variety of genes and then test drug resistance, among other things."

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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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