Environmental Factor, February 2010, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
2009 ONES Awardees Speak at NIEHS
By Thaddeus Schug
This year's six winners of the Outstanding New Environmental Scientists (ONES) awards gathered at NIEHS Jan. 21 to deliver presentations on their research projects to Institute scientists and visitors. NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., welcomed the young investigators, describing the ONES award as an "outstanding funding opportunity that will assist the group of exceptional young scientists in launching an innovative research career focusing on environmental health."
The ONES winners represent a cross-disciplinary group of scientists, with specialized interests in toxicology, genetics, epidemiology, cardiology, neurobiology, and pharmacology. Their work exemplifies what Birnbaum referred to as a priority issue at NIEHS, which is the need to conduct "complex research on complex diseases and integrate these issues into environmental health."
Established in 2006, the ONES program is a highly competitive award program that funds the most promising new faculty investigators. NIEHS was the first Institute to make such a strong and unique contribution to the identification and support of junior faculty investigators through the ONES program.
In her opening remarks, ONES program director and meeting chair Carol Shreffler, Ph.D., explained that the ONES grants are R01 awards specifically designed to help junior investigators at the start of their careers "put in the foundation for a successful research career." The five-year grant funds research at $250,000 per year and supports equipment purchases and career enhancement activities with an additional $150,000 during each of the first two years. As Shreffler noted, "Young investigators who were successful at getting their first grant often have trouble getting renewals because they lack access to specialized equipment or career enhancement opportunities."
The morning presentations were part of a daylong agenda for the awardees that included lunch with Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) staff and afternoon meetings with intramural scientists and postdoctoral fellows. The ONES awardees will make additional presentations at NIEHS over the course of their grants. Videos of their talks will be posted on the Grant Program Events archive online.
(Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)
2009 ONES Awardees
University of California, Los Angeles cardiologist Jesus Araujo, M.D., Ph.D. (http://www.med.ucla.edu/cardiology/faculty/araujo.htm) , Los Angeles, will focus on the effects of particulate air pollution on high-density lipoproteins and atherosclerosis.
Virginia Commonwealth neurobiologist and former NIEHS Postdoctoral Fellow Michelle Block, Ph.D. (http://www.anatomy.vcu.edu/directory/faculty/detail.html?ID=1232) , will explore the role of protein radicals in microglia in the environmental mechanisms of chronic neurotoxicity.
New York University epidemiologist Yu Chen, Ph.D. (http://www.med.nyu.edu/research/cheny16.html) , intends to continue her investigation into the interactions between arsenic exposure from drinking water and genetic susceptibility related to inflammation and oxidative stress in cardiovascular disease.
University of Kansas Medical Center pharmacologist James Luyendyk, Ph.D. (http://www.kumc.edu/pharmacology/Luyendyk.html) , aims to understand the mechanisms of xenobiotic-induced biliary inflammation and fibrosis.
North Carolina State University toxicologist and former NIEHS Postdoctoral Fellow Scott McCulloch, Ph.D. (http://service004.hpc.ncsu.edu/toxicology/faculty/mcculloch/index.htm) , plans to investigate the role of human DNA polymerase eta (pol η) in the mutagenic response to oxidative stress.
University of Michigan geneticist Dana Dolinoy, Ph.D. (http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=ddolinoy) , will be investigating effects on the fetal epigenome of in utero exposure to bisphenol A.