Assistant professor of chemistry Matthew Shoulders was named a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) director’s New Innovator Award on Oct. 6.
Under the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program supported by the NIH Common Fund, the National Institutes of Health announced the award of 78 grants to scientists proposing highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research. The awards support exceptional investigators pursuing bold research projects that span the broad mission of the NIH, including developing methods for cells to synthesize their own drugs, using cell phones to identify and track disease-carrying mosquitoes in their natural habitats, stopping depression by monitoring and altering brain cell states, and exploring how socially learned behavior can be passed on biologically to future generations.
“This program has consistently produced research that revolutionized scientific fields by giving investigators the freedom to take risks and explore potentially groundbreaking concepts,” NIH Director Francis Collins said. “We look forward to the remarkable advances in biomedical research the 2015 awardees will make.”
Shoulders was named a recipient of the New Innovator Award for his project entitled, "Continuous Directed Evolution of Biomolecules in Human Cells for Medical Research." The award provides the Shoulders Lab with $2,340,000 to pursue the project. Matt noted that he is “excited about the opportunities and resources this award provides to pursue our ideas about using the human cell itself as a factory for the design, creation, validation, and optimization of functional biomolecules.”
Research in the Shoulders Lab focuses on designing chemical biology methods to modulate and monitor protein folding in metazoan cells, as well as applying those methods in protein misfolding-related disease model systems to reveal fundamental aspects of cellular proteostasis and to potentially identify new therapeutic strategies.
In all, 13 Pioneer awards, 41 New Innovator awards, 8 Transformative Research awards, and 16 Early Independence awards were announced on Oct. 6. The total funding, which represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund and multiple NIH institutes, centers, and offices, is approximately $121 million.