Three researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have been named early career scientists by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Xinzhong Dong, Ph.D., Joshua Mendell, M.D., Ph.D., and Sinisa Urban, Ph.D., all will remain faculty at Hopkins but also become employees of HHMI, which will provide research funding and salary for the next six years.
"We are thrilled for Xinzhong, Josh and Sin for being recognized by Hughes for the quality of their work," says Chi V. Dang, M.D., Ph.D., the vice dean for research at Johns Hopkins. "At the same time, this is an honor for all of Johns Hopkins, to have not only one but three young investigators selected."
The award is given to recognize "the nation's best biomedical scientists at a critical early stage of their faculty careers, and to provide them with flexible funding to develop scientific programs of exceptional merit."
Dong, an assistant professor of neuroscience and member of Hopkins' Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences Center for Sensory Biology, has been at Johns Hopkins since 2004. His team is taking a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the mechanisms behind sensation, including pain, itch and touch. All three so-called somatosensations are controlled by nerves in the dorsal root ganglia, a bundle of nerves that carries information through the spinal cord into the brain. To do their research, the team has developed new molecular tools to examine nerve cell circuitry and communication. They would like to learn which nerve cells mediate which sensation, how these nerve cells relay information to other cells and which proteins within these cells actually sense an itch or gentle touch.
Mendell has been an assistant professor of pediatrics and member of Hopkins' McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine since 2004. His team studies microRNAs, how they function and how they are controlled in normal cells and under disease conditions. MicroR
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Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions