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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

September 2023

NIEHS fellows recognized for scientific merit, originality

Eleven trainees take top honors in annual NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence competition.

The 2024 Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) competition awardees have been announced, and 11 NIEHS trainees ranked among the top 25% for their outstanding scientific research projects. The competition, now in its 29th year, included abstracts from the 27 institutes and centers (ICs) across the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIEHS ranked fifth this year across NIH for the total number of FARE awards by IC, according to Darryl Zeldin, M.D., NIEHS Division of Intramural Research scientific director.

“We have amazing postdoctoral fellows at NIEHS, and our outstanding showing in the NIH-wide FARE competition nicely demonstrates this,” said Zeldin. “The awards exemplify some of the best science that is being conducted in our intramural program. Congratulations to the fellows and their mentors.”

Recognizing trainee contributions

Research projects recognized this year represented a range of topics, including embryonic development, female reproductive function, and brain function (see sidebar). A full list of NIEHS awardees and their abstract titles can be found on the NIEHS FARE website.

Fellows competed for the award by submitting a research abstract that undergoes blind review by a committee of scientific peers. Those among the top 25% are recognized as FARE awardees. Fellows receive a $1,500 travel stipend to attend a meeting of their choice to present their research. They also may be selected to present a talk at the NIH Research Festival, which will be held Sept. 18-23, or at a Special Interest Group seminar series, provided their research matches the scientific interests of the session or group.

Investing in future fellow careers

Sukanya Saha, Ph.D.
Saha, one of 11 NIEHS FARE awardees, studies the connection between mitochondrial energy and the development of neurodegenerative diseases. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Three of this year’s recipients are previous FARE awardees.

  • Sukanya Saha, Ph.D., a visiting fellow in the In Vivo Neurobiology Group mentored by Guohong Cui, M.D., Ph.D., studies the connection between the energy balance of mitochondria and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Last year, she used the FARE travel award to present her research at the Society for Neuroscience meeting, and this year she plans to do the same.

“To me, FARE awards are a huge motivation and inspiration in my journey with science,” Saha said. “It has further nurtured my scientific mindfulness, along with strengthening my scientific perseverance. These recognitions help me carry on my research more enthusiastically and increase my urge to discover the unknown in this field of perpetual knowledge.”

  • Laura Kammel, Ph.D.
    Kammel studies the relationship between circadian disruption and increased breast cancer risk at the molecular level. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS).
    Laura Kammel, Ph.D., another two-time awardee and fellow in the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory’s Single Cell Dynamics Group, is mentored by Joseph Rodriguez, Ph.D. Kammel studies the relationship between circadian disruption, the disturbance of biological timing, and increased breast cancer risk at the molecular level. She said that the award has propelled her forward in her field. Last year, she presented her research at the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference in Mammary Gland Biology, and she is still deciding where to present this year.

“With last year’s award, I was able to present at some fantastic scientific conferences and make valuable connections with leaders in the field of mammary gland biology and endocrinology. With this year’s award, I look forward to building upon those relationships to further enhance my training and expertise and to grow my professional network.”

  • Ziyue Wang, Ph.D.
    Wang develops statistical models to analyze microbiome data. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS).
    Ziyue Wang, Ph.D., a fellow in the Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch, mentored by Alison Motsinger-Reif, Ph.D., develops statistical models to analyze microbiome data. Last year, she used the travel award to present her research at the Eastern North American Region International Biometric Society meeting, and she is still considering where to present this year.

“I am honored and privileged to receive the FARE award, since it is a complimentary remark of my work to be acknowledged by experts within the NIH community,” she said. “It is a milestone for me at NIH, which will motivate me to pursue my research interests and goals, as well as support me to advertise my work to a broader audience in the future.”

(Lindsay Key is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

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