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NIEHS selects 2010 ONES awardees

By Eddy Ball
November 2010

Jason Bielas, Ph.D.
Bielas plans to test his working hypothesis that the induction and accumulation of random mtDNA mutations fuels pathogenic mutant populations, aging, and age-related disease. He also intends to determine the molecular mechanisms of somatic mtDNA mutagenesis. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Jason Bielas)

Jared Brown, Ph.D.
Brown plans to pursue the hypothesis that carbon nanotube exposure activates mast cells through an IL-33 dependent mechanism, which results in pulmonary inflammation and adverse cardiovascular events due to the resultant release of inflammatory mediators. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Jared Brown)

Sarah Delaney, Ph.D.
Delaney seeks to define the mechanisms by which DNA damage, resulting from an inflammatory response or other environmental sources of damage, contributes to dynamic DNA mutations. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Sarah Delaney)

Rebecca Fry, Ph.D.
Studying a cohort of newborns in Mexico, Fry will investigate how exposure to arsenic alters newborn expression of the NF-kB inflammatory response pathway, and how this modulation is influenced by newborn genetics and epigenetics. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Fry)

Yu-Ying He, Ph.D.
Yu-Ying He intends to investigate the molecular mechanisms and consequences of ultraviolet radiation in the UVA band-induced phosphatase and tensin homolog down-regulation, as the molecular/cellular basis for the gene-environment interactions in the pathogenesis of skin cancer. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Yu-Ying He)

Jill Poole, M.D.
Poole will study how the pattern recognition receptors that are responsible for recognizing Gram-positive peptidoglycan - a polymer that surrounds bacteria - regulate the chronic inflammatory response to agricultural organic dust exposure. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Jill Poole and the University of Nebraska Medical Center)

NIEHS announced funding for eight early-stage tenure-track investigators as 2010 Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) awardees. The highly competitive, five-year ONES grants will total approximately $4 million for the first year, and the awardees, like their predecessors in the five-year-old program, will visit NIEHS to present talks about their research projects.

This year's awardees are Jason Bielas, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington; Jared Brown, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of East Carolina University; Sarah Delaney, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of Brown University; Rebecca Fry, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; former NIEHS postdoctoral fellow Yu-Ying He, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of the University of Chicago; Jill Poole, M.D. (§ion=Pulmonary%2C%20Critical%20Care%2C%20Sleep%20%26%20Allergy) Exit NIEHS, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center; Joseph Shaw, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of Indiana University; and Alexander Star, Ph.D. ( Exit NIEHS, of the University of Pittsburgh.

Five of the new ONES awardees have training ties to NIEHS. As a postdoctoral fellow at NIEHS from 2001 to 2007, Yu-Ying He was part of the photobiology group headed by former Principal Investigator Colin Chignell, Ph.D. She later returned as a special volunteer in the free radicals group headed by Principal Investigator Ron Mason, Ph.D.

Shaw completed a fellowship at Dartmouth, working with NIEHS grantees Joshua Hamilton, Ph.D., Celia Chen, Ph.D., and Carol Folt, Ph.D. Delaney and Fry were postdoctoral fellows at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with NIEHS grantees John Essigmann, Ph.D., and Leona Samson, Ph.D. Brown completed his Ph.D. at the University of Montana with NIEHS grantee Andrij Holian, Ph.D.

Established in 2006, the ONES program identifies outstanding scientists who are in the early, formative stages of their careers and intend to make a long-term career commitment to research in the mission areas of NIEHS. The program assists them in launching an innovative research program focusing on problems of environmental exposures and human biology, human pathophysiology, and human disease.

"This grant is designed to serve as the foundation of a successful research career," said NIEHS Training and Career Programs Health Scientist Administrator Carol Shreffler, Ph.D. "The program strives to build a long-term relationship between the awardees and NIEHS."

"We indeed have made this a very competitive process," Shreffler noted, "and we look forward to having these awardees make some very seminal contributions in the field of environmental health sciences."

Alexander Star, Ph.D.
In his search for an effective method to remove toxic fibers of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from the environment, Star will utilize enzymatic catalysis to initiate CNT degradation in environmentally and physiologically relevant settings. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Joshua Franzos)

Joseph Shaw, Ph.D.
Shaw will lead studies that examine gene copy number variation in the lake and pond dwelling planktonic crustacean Daphnia, commonly called the water flea, which is one of a handful of model organisms approved by the NIH for biomedical research. Grant ( (Photo courtesy of Indiana University)

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