UCSD Researcher Awarded One of First-Ever NIH New Investigator Awards

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The NIH has announced that a total of more than $105 million will be awarded to 41 exceptionally innovative investigators – many of whom are in early stages of their research careers – as part of an NIH “Roadmap for Medical Research” initiative that tests new approaches to supporting research in the United States.

“Novel ideas and new investigators are essential ingredients for scientific progress, and the creative scientists we recognize with NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards and New Innovator Awards are well-positioned to make significant – and potentially transformative – discoveries in a variety of areas,” said Zerhouni in announcing the award winners at the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Symposium in Washington, D.C. on September 19.

“Until recently, most fundamental studies of cancer biology focused on the earliest steps in tumor formation. However, the resulting primary tumors only rarely kill patients directly,” said Roger Y. Tsien, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of Pharmacology at UCSD.   “Most cancer deaths result from metastases, in which a tiny minority of primary tumor cells manages to spread widely throughout the body and establish widespread secondary colonies.  Dr. Yang proposes to develop novel approaches to study those crucial disseminating ringleaders and find out what makes them so mobile and dangerous. We're delighted that the NIH has recognized such a promising young investigator with an exciting new strategy."

As one of 29 New Innovator Award recipients for 2007, Yang will receive $1.5 million in direct costs over five years to support her work.  More than 2,100 applications were received for this extremely competitive program, which recognizes bold ideas from some of the nation's most innovative new scientists.  In addition to the 29 “Innovator” awards, reserved for new investigators who haven’t received an NIH regular research grant before, the agency also awarded 12 “NIH Director Pioneer Awards,” given to support scientists at any career stage.