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Young Investigator Honored at White House Ceremony

By Eddy Ball
December 2007

Jordt discussed the mechanism of ion channel proteins during his October 2006 ONES presentation,
Jordt discussed the mechanism of ion channel proteins during his October 2006 ONES presentation, "TRPA1 Channels in Sensory Neurons as Targets for Environmental Irritants." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS grantee Sven-Eric Jordt, Ph.D., already had plenty to be proud of as he joined 55 other young researchers at the White House November 1 for an awards ceremony. By the end of the event, the young investigator had yet another honor to his credit - one of the prestigious 2006 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his outstanding research on the effects of environmental irritants in airway diseases and inflammation.

Established in 1996, PECASE recognizes young scientists the White House considers "the most promising researchers in the Nation within their fields." Jordt was one of only twelve young scientists employed or funded by NIH to be honored with this year's PECASE in a ceremony presided over by John H. Marburger III, science advisor to the President and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In a statement about Jordt and the other NIH recipients Exit NIEHS, ( NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., expressed the agency's confidence in their future contributions to the NIH mission. "We look forward to continued innovation from these outstanding investigators," he wrote, "as they push the frontiers of medical research during this pivotal time for scientific discovery."

An assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Yale University School of Medicine Exit NIEHS (, Jordt enjoys the distinction of being the first NIEHS extramural grantee to receive this honor. He was one eight young investigators awarded the first Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) grants in 2006, the first year these grants were offered by NIEHS.

The highly competitive ONES awards are designed to offer outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers a strong foundation for their research with a program of R01 research grants for direct costs, equipment and other resources for up to five years. Totaling $3.6 million in 2006, the grants are administered by the Cellular, Organ and Systems Pathobiology Branch of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training.

Jordt was awarded his ONES grant for his investigations into the way certain airborne pollutants interact with sensory nerve cells in order to produce eye, nose and throat irritation. His lab uses pharmacological, molecular, genetic and physiological approaches, as well as fluorescent imaging techniques, to investigate the properties of ion channel proteins that serve as sensors for temperature and noxious stimuli in sensory neurons.

Jordt received his undergraduate education in biochemistry in Germany at the Free University in Berlin and his doctorate at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology in Hamburg. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco from 1998 to 2005 and held a Fellowship with the German Academy of Natural Scientists, Leopoldina, prior to joining the faculty at Yale.

As a PECASE winner, Jordt joins an elite group of two at NIEHS. In 2002, intramural Principal Investigator Marilyn Diaz, Ph.D., of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, became the first NIEHS scientist to receive the honor.

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