Two Pew Scholars Receive New Innovator Award From NIH

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Washington, D.C. - Drs. Ekaterina Heldwein and Michael Rape, 2007 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences, each will receive $1.5 million over a five-year period to further their innovative biomedical research as part of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) New Innovator Award Program.

The award is part of an NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiative that tests new approaches to supporting research.

Both Heldwein and Rape were selected earlier this year as Pew Scholars based upon the same research work for which NIH subsequently recognized them.  The Pew program provides crucial and flexible support to the scholars and encourages awardees to be entrepreneurial and innovative in their research.

Dr. Heldwein, an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine, hopes to determine, at an atomic level, how herpes viruses enter human cells.  Her work could aid in the design of drugs that could be used to prevent or treat infection with herpes viruses.

Dr. Rape, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley, hopes to decipher how one important piece of cellular machinery, the anaphase-promoting complex (APC), allows cells to divide and differentiate into all the different tissues of the body during embryonic development.  His work could help identify specific inhibitors that would thwart the proliferation of cancer cells or promote the regeneration of injured tissue, particularly in the central nervous system.  Such inhibitors could one day form the basis of new treatment drugs.

The Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences program was launched in 1985 to provide crucial support to investigators in the early- to mid-stages of their careers who show outstanding promise in the basic and clinical sciences.  Since then, Pew has invested more than $100 million to fund nearly 400 scholars.

For more information about the NIH Roadmap initiative, please visit the Web site at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov.