NIEHS and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) have announced the 2020 NIEHS-NIA Joint Fellowship Program (JFP) grant winners. The funding opportunity supports dual research projects, with scientists from the institutes working together for two years. The financial support allows each team to hire a postdoctoral fellow to work exclusively with them.
JFP began in 2018 with funding for three research efforts. “This highly competitive program is a great example of collaboration between two NIH [National Institutes of Health] institutes on different campuses,” said Darryl Zeldin, M.D., NIEHS scientific director.
“Environmental exposures are important factors in the health of aging populations, and so supporting basic and applied research in this area is critical,” he noted.
Researchers join forces
This year’s winners are listed below (see sidebar for more information about their research).
- Perry Blackshear, M.D., D.Phil., from NIEHS, and Isabel Beerman, Ph.D., from NIA, for their project, “Post-transcriptional regulation of hematopoiesis by ZFP36L2.”
- Chandra Jackson, Ph.D., from NIEHS, and Michele Evans, M.D., from NIA, for their project, “Neighborhood environments, sleep health, and cardiometabolic function: Findings from the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span study.”
“The award of two collaborative projects between the NIA and NIEHS intramural research programs is an important step in fostering collaboration between the two institutes,” said Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., NIA scientific director.
“The success of the initiative clearly shows that the science of health is best served by the collaboration of scientists across a wide range of expertise,” Ferrucci added.
Applications were peer-reviewed, and reviewers were chosen by the scientific directors from each institute. Joel Abramowitz, Ph.D., special assistant to the NIEHS scientific director, oversees the initiative. He explained the requirements applicants needed to follow.
- There should be one researcher from each institute.
- The collaboration should be new.
- The proposal should align with the mission of each institute.
- The science should be of the highest quality.
Abramowitz pointed out that the awards allow the scientists to work on projects they would not normally have funding to carry out. “It makes for more collegial science because you are getting collaboration between investigators and between the two institutions,” he observed.
In addition to hiring a full-time postdoctoral researcher, winners receive funding for laboratory and travel expenses for two years. The scientists will meet periodically at each other’s laboratories once COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted. NIA’s research labs are located in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Ernie Hood is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)