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NIH Pathways to Independence Awardees Recognized

January 2009

Michelle Block, Ph.D.
Block held postdoctoral fellowships at NIEHS and the Environmental Protection Agency. She was a member of the NIEHS Neuropharmacology Group. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Block)

Dario Ramirez, Ph.D.
Ramirez was a postdoctoral and research fellow in the NIEHS Free Radical Metabolism Group. (Photo courtesy of Dario Ramirez)

Vishal Vaidya, Ph.D.
Vaidya was a postdoctoral fellow in the renal division of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, supported by a grant from the National Kidney Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Vishal Vaidya)

The NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) recently recognized three additional NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) ( Exit NIEHS recipients for their successful transition to tenure track or equivalent status and officially welcomed them as members of the NIEHS grantee community.

After a project review of their research, training and career development accomplishments, the following recipients moved from an R99 mentored-postdoctoral phase of their training to R00 status as independent principal investigators:

  • Michelle Block, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS - Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, working under the grant Reactive Microgliosis and Progressive Dopaminergic Neurotoxicity
  • Dario Ramirez, Ph.D. - Assistant Member in the Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, working under the grant Free Radicals and Redox Signaling Triggered by Lipopolysaccaride in Macrophages
  • Vishal Vaidya, Ph.D. - Instructor in Medicine, in the Renal Division of Brigham and Women's Hospital, working under the grant Technology and Endothelial Biology of Kidney Injury Molecule-1

The Pathway to Independence program is a way to increase and maintain a strong cohort of new and talented NIH-supported independent investigators by providing an opportunity for postdoctoral scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support from the same grant award. The award is for up to five years of support in two phases - from one to two years for the continuation and completion of mentored postdoctoral experience during the K99 phase and up to three years of research grant support in the independent R00 phase.

Applicants for the Pathways to Independence Award must have had fewer than five years of postdoctoral experience, still be in a mentored or postdoctoral position, and may not have had previous R01 or K-series grant support. Both U. S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens at domestic institutions, including intramural and extramural and for profit may apply.

Since the program was initiated in 2007, NIEHS has made approximately 25 K99 grant awards. So far, five of these K99 awardees have successfully transitioned to faculty positions and have been awarded the R00 grant funding. Several more have achieved faculty positions and R00 awards are pending.

For further information on the K99/R00 program contact: Carol Shreffler, Ph.D.

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