NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence
Guoli (Scarlett) Shi (Compton lab) and Jonathan Rawson (Hu lab) received 2019 NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence (FAREs) for travel to attend and present their work at a scientific meeting in the U.S. These awards, which acknowledge outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows, are sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, and Office of Intramural Training and Education
and are funded by the Scientific Directors. FAREs are based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality/presentation of the abstracts.
Fellows in the HIV DRP were FARE awardees in previous years:
Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab), 2018
Sanath Kumar Janaka (Pathak lab), 2017
Sheikh Abdul Rahman (Hu lab), 2016
Luca Sardo (Hu lab), 2015
Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab), 2015
Takashi Masaoka (Le Grice lab), 2014
Ina O'Carroll (Rein lab), 2013
Kari Dilley (Hu lab), 2012
Lillian Kuo (Freed lab), 2012
Angelica Martins (Freed lab), 2012
Tobias Paprotka (Pathak lab), 2012
Narasimhan Jayanth Venkatachari (Pathak lab), 2012
Kayoko Waki (Freed lab), 2012
Helene Mens (Kearney lab), 2011
Muthukumar Balasubramaniam (Freed lab), 2010
Wei Bu (Pathak lab), 2010
Nancy P.Y. Chung (KewalRamani lab), 2008 and 2010
Benjamin Luttge (Freed lab), 2010
Mulky (KewalRamani lab), 2010
Jessica Smith (Pathak lab), 2010
Adamson (Freed lab), 2009
Michael Moore (Hu lab), 2009
Rebecca Russell (Pathak lab), 2009
Yi Wang (Le Grice lab), 2009
Wendeler (Le Grice lab), 2009
Krista Delviks-Frankenberry (Pathak lab), 2008
P.-S. Chin (Hu lab), 2006 and 2007
Chandravanu Dash (Le Grice lab), 2007
Yeshitila Friew (Pathak lab), 2007
Gousset (Freed lab), 2007
Patricia Henry (Pathak lab), 2007
Kazushi Motomura (Hu lab), 2007
Nikolenko (Pathak lab), 2007
Olga Nikolaitchik (Hu lab), 2006
NIH Summer Mentor Award
Jonathan Rawson (Hu lab) received a 2018 NIH Summer Mentor Award. The NIH Summer Mentor Award Program provides for a centrally funded summer intern to train with qualified postdoctoral fellows, visiting fellows, clinical fellows, and graduate students. Dr. Rawson's trainee is Franck Mbuntcha Bogni, a student who is participating in the NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program this year.
Young Scientist Sponsorship, 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Kristi Huik (Maldarelli lab) was awarded a full sponsorship by the Estonian Academy of Sciences to participate in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in June 2018. She received this award based on her outstanding research on the role of host genetic factors in HIV acquisition, HIV drug resistance, and molecular epidemiology of other infections while she was a Ph.D. student at the University of Tartu before joining the Maldarelli lab. The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a prestigious gathering of around 30 Nobel Laureates and 500-600 young scientists — including postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. students, and undergraduates — who convene to communicate leading issues in physiology and medicine in a forum that includes lectures, panel discussions, poster sessions, master classes, Agora talks, and science walks.
Intramural AIDS Research Fellowships
Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship (IARF) awards from the Office of AIDS Research, Office of Intramural Research, and Office of Intramural Research & Training in the National Institutes of Health include full stipend support to successful candidates who demonstrate outstanding scientific potential through both an imaginative and thoughtful research plan and a well thought out career development plan.
Jonathan Rawson (Hu lab) received IARF awards in 2018 and 2017 to support his research project on "Understanding the Pseudodiploid Nature of HIV-1."
Melissa Fernandez (Freed lab) received an IARF award in 2018 to support her research project on "Mechanism of HIV-1 Env Trafficking to the Virological Synapse."
The following HIV DRP Postdoctoral Fellows received IARF awards in previous years to support their research projects:
Mariia Novikova (Freed lab), 2017: "Characterization of Antiretroviral Activity of Second-Generation Maturation Inhibitors and Mechanisms of Resistance"
Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab), 2017: "Challenging the Paradigm for Antiretroviral Resistance through the Study of Non-Canonical HIV-1 Escape Mutants"
Emiko Urano (Freed lab), 2016: "Development of Potent and Broadly Active HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors"
Mariia Novikova (Freed lab), 2016: "Mechanisms of HIV-1 Gag Lattice Formation and Env Incorporation"
Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab), 2015: "Characterizing the Host Cell Factors Involved in HIV-1 Gag Trafficking to Sites of Virus Assembly"
Belete Desimmie (Pathak lab), 2014: "Identification of Novel Class of HIV Replication Inhibitors Targeting the HIV-1 Vif-A3G Interactions"
Robert Buckheit (Freed lab), 2014: "The Effect of Host Antiviral Restriction Factors on Viral Budding and Maturation"
Chris Case (KewalRamani lab), 2013 and 2014: "Innate Immune Detection of HIV-1"
Lillian Kuo (Freed lab), 2011 and 2012: "Characterizing the Role of HIV-1 p6-Alix Binding in HIV-1 Cell-to-Cell Infectivity"
Humeyra Taskent (Le Grice lab), 2011 and 2012: "Incorporating Unnatural Photoactive Amino Acids into Viral Capsids to Look for Host Proteins with Which They Interact"
Philip Tedbury (Freed lab), 2011 and 2012: "HIV-1 Gag in Assembly and Release: Interactions with gp41 and Cellular Host Factors"
Venkatachari (Pathak lab), 2011 and 2012: "Identification of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Vif-A3G and Vif-A3F Interactions as Novel Antiviral Agents for the Treatment of HIV-1 Infection"
Michelle Mitchell (Le Grice lab), 2009: "The Application of Small Angle X-ray Scattering to Define the Structure of the HIV-1 Rev Response Element (RRE)."
NIH Postbac Poster Day Awards
Phuong Pham (Freed lab) received an Outstanding Poster Award at the NIH Postbac Poster Day in 2018. Her presentation on "Progress in Developing Broadly Active and Highly Potent HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors" was recognized as one of the best among the 772 posters presented by the NIH postbacs this year. Previous DRP postbac fellows who received Outstanding Poster Awards on NIH Postbac Poster Day include Nishani Kuruppu and Justin Kaplan (Freed lab) in 2016, Brian Ogendi (Le Grice lab) in 2014, and Tiffany Tanzosh (Maldarelli lab) in 2012.
Travel Award, CCR and DCEG Staff Scientist and Staff Clinician Retreat
Krista Delviks-Frankenberry (Pathak lab) received a $1,500 travel award for the best oral presentation at the 14th Annual CCR and DCEG Staff Scientist and Staff Clinician Retreat in April 2018.
Travel Awards, HIV DRP Think Tank Meeting
Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) and Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab) received $1000 travel awards from the HIV DRP for the two most meritorious talks by NCI fellows at the 2018 HIV DRP Think Tank Meeting. Recipients of the HIV DRP Think Tank Travel Awards in 2017 were Mauricio Comas-Garcia (Rein lab) and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab); in 2016, Mariia Novikova (Freed lab) and Mauricio Comas-Garcia (Rein lab); and in 2015, Yang Liu (Hu lab) and Emiko Urano (Freed lab) received these awards. Previous recipients of the HIV DRP Think Tank Travel Awards (provided by the Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology, Center for Cancer Research, NCI) include Joanna Sztuba-Solinska (Le Grice lab) and Francesco Simonetti (Maldarelli lab), 2014; Joanna Sztuba-Solinska (Le Grice lab) and Chris Case (KewalRamani lab), 2013; Hyun Yu (KewalRamani lab), 2012; Kayoko Waki (Freed lab), 2011; and Muthukumar Balasubramaniam (Freed lab) and Michal Legiewicz (Le Grice lab), 2010.
Investigator Scholarships, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections
Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab), Camille Lange (Maldarelli lab), Andrew Musick (Kearney lab), Phuong Pham (Freed lab), and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) were awarded New Investigator Scholarships to present their research findings at the 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).
The following HIV DRP fellows were CROI scholarship awardees in previous years:
Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab), 2017 and 2015
Belete Desimmie (Pathak lab), 2017
Justin Kaplan (Freed lab), 2017
Camille Lange (Maldarelli lab), 2017 and 2016
Yang Liu (Hu lab), 2017
Andrew Musick (Kearney lab), 2017
Mariia Novikova (Freed lab), 2017 and 2016
Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab), 2017
Emiko Urano (Freed lab), 2016 and 2014
Luca Sardo (Hu lab), 2015
Sarah Watters (Maldarelli lab), 2015
Chad Coomer (Kearney lab), 2014
Francesco Simonetti (Maldarelli lab), 2014
Taisuke Izumi (Pathak lab), 2013
Lillian Kuo (Freed lab), 2013
Catherine Adamson (Freed lab), 2007
Zandrea Ambrose (KewalRamani lab), 2007 and 2006
Travel Awards, Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting
Paula Rote (Maldarelli lab) and Mariia Novikova (Freed lab) won $1000 travel awards for their outstanding talks at the 2017 Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting. This annual Think Tank meeting on the NIH-Bethesda campus provides a venue for students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff scientists to present emerging work and hypotheses in the field of cancer virology. The Think Tank travel awards are provided by the Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology, Center for Cancer Research, NCI. Members of the HIV DRP who received travel awards in previous years include Mariia Novikova and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) in 2016, Ina O'Carroll (Rein lab) in 2015, Philip Tedbury (Freed lab) in 2014, and Angelica Martins and Emiko Urano (Freed lab) in 2013.
Norman P. Salzman Memorial Poster Award in Virology
Belete Desimmie (Pathak lab) won a 2016 Norman P. Salzman Memorial Poster Award in Virology for his work on APOBEC3 inhibition of HIV-1 replication. This annual NIH-wide award is given to three postdoctoral fellows per year to recognize outstanding research in the field of virology under the mentorship of an NIH, CBER, or Leidos scientist. Postdoctoral fellows from all NIH campuses, including Bethesda and Frederick, can apply for the award. Dr. Desimmie presented his poster at the 18th Annual Norman P. Salzman Virology Symposium in November 2016 and received a cash award for his achievement.
Diversity Career Development Program, NIH
Camille Lange (Maldarelli lab) graduated from the Diversity Career Development Program (DCDP) at NIH in 2016. DCDP graduates were nominated and selected among a group of talented NIH staff for participation in this program.
Award, 2016 Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)
Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab) was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2016 Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban,
South Africa. She presented the latest findings of her research project ("Intra-patient, full length analysis of HIV gag genetic variation identifies regions of variability") at both meetings.
Poster Awards, Spring Research Festival
Maya Swiderski (Freed lab) was awarded "Outstanding Poster - Infectious Pathogens and Epidemiology" for her presentation at the 2016 Spring Research Festival, which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute at Frederick and the other eight agencies of the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research. Maya's presentation highlighted the research she conducted as a student trainee in the Freed lab over the past year. Other members of the Freed lab who won poster awards at the Spring Research Festival in previous years include Megan Mounts (2014), Scott MacDonald (2013), Darren D'Souza (2012), and Nishani Kuruppu (2011). All five of these award recipients were undergraduate students or Werner H. Kirsten student interns under the mentorship of Abdul Waheed.
Other HIV DRP fellows and student trainees who have won poster awards in previous years for their presentations at the Spring Research Festival include:
Taisuke Izumi (Pathak lab), 2013
Barry Johnson (Hughes lab), 2012
Tobias Paprotka (Pathak lab), 2011
Legiewicz (Le Grice lab), 2008
Krista Delviks-Frankenberry (Pathak lab), 2007
(Derse lab), 2007
Leslie Gee (Derse lab), 2007
Michael Moore (Hu lab), 2007
Samuel Rulli, Jr. (Rein lab), 2007
Rebecca Russell (Pathak lab), 2007
Michaela Wendeler (Le Grice lab), 2007
Patricia Henry (Pathak lab), 2006
Olga Nikolaitchik (Hu lab), 2006
Galina Nikolenko (Pathak lab), 2006
Hongzhan Xu (Pathak lab), 2006
Research Highlights Award at 2016 NCI Scientific Retreat
In 2016, Eric Freed received a Research Highlights Award for his presentation on "Development of Potent and Broadly Active HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors" at the NCI Annual Intramural Scientific Retreat.
2015 NCI Director's Awards
Members of the NCI HIV Integration Sites Analysis (ISA) team received a group award at the NCI Director's Award ceremony in November 2015 "for discoveries on HIV survival during antiretroviral therapy, revealing the importance of integration site and clonal expansion." The ISA group award recipients included Stephen Hughes, Andrea Ferris, Shawn Hill, Mary Kearney, Frank Maldarelli, Wei Shao, and Jonathan Spindler (HIV DRP); Francesco Simonetti (University of Milan); John Coffin (Tufts University); John Mellors (University of Pittsburgh); and David Wells, Ling Su, and Xiaolin Wu (Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.).
Stephen Hughes received a second award at the 2015 NCI Director's Award ceremony as part of a group of NCI staff members who were recognized for "exceptional leadership and team work that allowed NCI to successfully conduct a comprehensive search for select agents and hazardous biological materials."
Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowships for Women Scientists
In November 2015, Melissa Fernandez (Freed lab) was selected for the Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists at the National Cancer Institute. The SRK Fellowship is a highly competitive annual program that provides additional mentoring opportunities, networking, seminars, and workshops to help prepare NCI’s female postdoctoral fellows for the competitive nature of the job market and help them to transition to independent research careers. The highlight of this selective program is a 30-week course entitled "Career Building for Women in Science," which includes two day-long workshops. The SRK Fellowship also includes mentoring opportunities with successful women scientists from government, industry, and academia.
Rachel Van Duyne and Mariia Novikova (Freed lab) were selected for SRK Fellowships in 2014 (2nd and 4th from left in photo below).
2015 SRK Fellows
2014 Outstanding Science Alumni Award from Penn State University
Eric Freed was selected by the Eberly College of Science to receive the 2014 Outstanding Science Alumni Award at Penn State University. This award recognizes alumni who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and are outstanding role models for the current students in the college.
2014 NICBR Collaborative Project Award
Joanna Sztuba-Solinska (Le Grice lab) received a $10,000 award to work with USAMRID under the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR). The title of her research proposal is "Therapeutic targeting of structural motifs of the Dengue virus RNA genome."
2014 International Fellow of NCI at Frederick
Joanna Sztuba-Solinska (Le Grice lab) was honored as one of five “International Fellows of NCI at Frederick” in 2014. She received this award in recognition of her achievements and contributions toward the mission of the NCI at Frederick community. As a postdoctoral fellow in the HIV DRP, she has focused her research on the exploration of RNA structural elements in the development of small-molecule therapeutic intervention of cancers and viral diseases. Details of her research interests and achievements are currently on display in the NCI at Frederick Conference Center. To read more about Dr. Sztuba-Solinska, go to the full Poster article on the NCI at Frederick website.
Award for Outstanding Scientific Presentation, 9th International Retroviral Nucleocapsid Protein and Assembly Symposium
Philip Tedbury (Freed lab) received an award for one of the best posters at the 2013 International Retroviral Nucleocapsid Protein and Assembly Symposium in Montreal, Canada. His presentation on "Identification of a matrix mutation that globally rescues Env incorporation defects: implications for matrix structure and Env recruitment" highlighted the latest findings from his research project supported by an Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship.
Award for Outstanding Scientific Presentation, Host Response to Disease Symposium, National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research
Janani Varadarajan (Hughes lab) received a $500 travel award from the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR) for one of the best oral presentations by post-doctoral and post-baccalaureate fellows at the Host Response to Disease symposium in May 2013. This symposium was held in conjunction with the NICBR Spring Research Festival at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland.
Award, 2013 Experimental Biology Meeting
Janani Varadarajan (Hughes lab) received a $1000 Graduate and Postdoctoral Travel Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to present her work on "Analyzing the Effects of Sub-Optimal Doses
of Raltegravir on HIV-1 Integration" at the 2013 Experimental Biology Meeting.
2013 Awards from Frederick County Science & Engineering Fair
In 2013, Catoctin High School senior Maria Hamscher (Pathak lab) presented the research she has been conducting in the lab of Dr. Vinay K. Pathak at the 32nd Annual Frederick County Science & Engineering Fair in Frederick, Maryland. Maria won the 2nd Place Award in Cellular & Molecular Biology, High School Division and also a Distinguishing Achievement 2nd Place Award, given by the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, for her research entitled "Testing the P2A Cleavage System for Gene Therapy Vectors." Since July 2012, she has been working as a Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern in the Pathak lab under the mentorship of Krista Delviks-Frankenberry.
2013 Award from Heatley-Payne Exchange Program for Early Career Scientists
In 2013, Barry Johnson (Hughes lab) won the U.S. award from the Heatley-Payne Exchange Program for Early Career Scientists. Offered jointly by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in the U.S. and the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) in the U.K., this grant program supports the reciprocal exchange of one member of each society to present research at the other society’s main conference and make a short research visit to a laboratory in that country. The award is "designed to benefit young scientists in both countries by giving them the opportunity to present their work overseas and experience the best of microbiology in the partner country."
After attending the SGM Spring Conference 2013 in Manchester, England, Dr. Johnson visited the laboratory of his collaborator Peter Cherepanov (Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute).
Dr. Johnson's research used a structural model of the HIV-1 intasome — a tetramer of integrase (IN) subunits bound to two viral DNA (vDNA) mimics — that he developed based on recent crystal structures of the prototype foamy virus (PFV) intasome that were solved by Dr. Cherepanov and his group. These crystal structures and the model that Dr. Johnson developed both show distinct differences between the uninhibited intasome and inhibitor-intasome complexes. In the PFV co-crystals, the terminal adenosine of the vDNA is displaced from its stacking with the penultimate cytosine. Published reports show that IN strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs) bind via a two-step mechanism in which the first step proceeds rapidly (subsecond time-scales) while the second step occurs more slowly (minute time-scales). Dr. Johnson proposed that the displacement of the terminal adenosine, which exposes the full INSTI binding pocket, constitutes the slower, second step of INSTI binding. To test this hypothesis, he introduced specific cysteine mutations into PFV IN and used modified nucleotides to cross-link the vDNA’s terminal adenosine in its catalytically active, nondisplaced conformation to PFV IN and determine co-crystal structures of INSTIs in their intermediate conformation (i.e., the subsecond binding event that occurs prior to adenosine displacement). These structures provide useful insight for designing compounds that overcome the energetic barrier that limits the second step of INSTI binding more efficiently. Preliminary modeling data suggest that several drug-resistant mutants may bind this adenosine more tightly than does wild-type IN. Therefore, these experiments could lead to the future development of new INSTIs that retain activity against mutants resistant to current therapies.
2012 SAIC Corporate Award
Marion Bona (Le Grice lab) was one of four SAIC-Frederick employees who were recognized among the winners of the annual SAIC Corporate Science Technology Fellows Council awards for publications that are considered to represent the very best of SAIC technical publications in the past year. She and Eckart Bindewald (CCR Nanobiology Program) won in the Physical Sciences category for their article, “Correlating SHAPE Signatures with Three-dimensional RNA Structures,” published in RNA (17:1688–1696, Cold Spring Laboratory Press, 2011). In selecting Bindewald and Bona’s article, the council commented that their paper was a “well-written paper documenting a new approach to interpreting SHAPE data, which will lead to a better understanding of RNA structure.”
Awards, Keystone Symposia on HIV
KyeongEun Lee (KewalRamani lab) was awarded a travel
scholarship and her abstract was selected for oral presentation at the 2012 Keystone Symposia on Frontiers in HIV Pathogenesis, Therapy and Eradication; Dr. Lee was also awarded a travel scholarship to present her research findings at the 2006 Keystone
Symposia on HIV Pathogenesis.
Kayoki Waki (Freed lab) was awarded a travel
scholarship and her abstract was selected for oral presentation at the 2012 Keystone
Symposia on Frontiers in HIV Pathogenesis, Therapy and Eradication.
P.Y. Chung (KewalRamani lab) was awarded a travel scholarship to present her research findings
at the 2009 Keystone Symposia on HIV Immunobiology: From Infection to Immune Control.
Taichiro Takemura (KewalRamani lab), Rebecca Russell (Pathak lab), and Michael Moore (Hu lab) were awarded
travel scholarships to present their research findings at the 2008 Keystone Symposia
on HIV Pathogenesis.
Norman P. Salzman Memorial Award in Virology
Tobias Paprotka (Pathak lab) won the 2011 Norman P. Salzman Memorial Award in Virology for his work on XMRV. This annual NIH-wide award is given to only one postdoctoral fellow per year to recognize outstanding research in the field of virology under the mentorship of an NIH, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, or SAIC scientist. Postdoctoral fellows from all NIH campuses, including Bethesda and Frederick, can apply for the award. Dr. Paprotka presented his research at the Thirteenth Annual Norman P. Salzman Memorial Symposium in Virology on November 10, 2011 and received a plaque and a cash award for his achievement. As Dr. Paprotka's mentor, Vinay Pathak also received a plaque at the Symposium.
Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship
Andrea Galli (Hu lab) was awarded a Marie Curie Postdoctoral
Fellowship in 2011 by Copenhagen University. He is currently completing his postdoctoral training in the Hepatitis C Program at Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Fellowships, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science awarded postdoctoral fellowships to Emiko Urano (Freed lab), Taisuke Izumi (Pathak lab), and Taichiro Takemura (KewalRamani lab) for 2013-2015, 2011-2013, and 2007-2009, respectively. The fellowship
program sponsored by this society supports meritorious biomedical research projects
undertaken in NIH laboratories by Japanese postdoctoral researchers.
2010 NCI Mentor of Merit Award
Eric Freed was selected as an NCI Mentor of Merit in 2010 for excellence in mentoring and guiding the careers of trainees in cancer research. Dr. Freed was nominated by present and past trainees who view his mentorship as outstanding. NCI Director Harold Varmus presented the Mentor of Merit citation to him at the NCI Director's Awards ceremony in November 2010.
2010 Multi-Investigator Award Sponsored by Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and Office of AIDS Research (OAR)
In 2010, Eric Freed and Vineet KewalRamani of the HIV DRP, NCI-Frederick, and Sriram Subramaniam of the Laboratory of Cell Biology, NCI-Bethesda, successfully competed for a $150,000 CCR/OAR-sponsored multi-investigator award with their research proposal "Catching HIV in the act: Structural studies of HIV transport from antigen-presenting cells into the T-cell nucleus." In total, four CCR/OAR-sponsored awards were made to 11 investigators within and between the Frederick and Bethesda campuses of the National Cancer Institute.
Director's Intramural Innovation Awards
2011, Sabrina Lusvarghi (Le Grice lab) received a $10,000 NCI Director's Intramural
Innovation Award for her application entitled "Incorporation of Cross- linkable Unnatural Amino Acids for Identifying Binding Partners for XMRV Proteins." Site-specific incorporation of unnatural amino acids into proteins is a growing area of chemical biology and biochemistry, and the availability of unnatural amino acids with novel biophysical properties is constantly widening the scope of these strategies. The goal of Dr. Lusvarghi’s proposal involves incorporating photo-crosslinkable unnatural amino acids into viable viruses, an approach that is currently unprecedented. The novelty of this strategy is that the photo-crosslinkable viruses can be used to study protein-protein interactions in their most-biologically relevant context. Moreover, previously unknown binding partners identified using this approach could serve as targets for novel antiviral therapies. Finally, success in this initial investigation will likely spawn parallel studies to identify and characterize binding partners of other XMRV proteins or proteins in related retroviruses of public health significance.
In 2010, Michal Legiewicz (Le Grice lab) received a $10,000 NCI Director's Intramural
Innovation Award for his research proposal entitled "Structural Responses in Tumor
Suppressor Messenger RNAs Induced by micro-RNA miR-21 in Breast Cancer."
Dr. Legiewicz initiated this project to investigate how the structure of messenger
RNA responds to downregulation by microRNA. While down- regulation by miR-21
and its binding to target mRNAs have been tested in functional and binding assays,
the structural response of target mRNAs is unknown. Dr. Legiewicz's study
employs a novel high-throughput RNA-probing technology to monitor structural rearrangements
within 3'- and 5'-UTRs in response to miRNA modulation. He is investigating
whether the binding of miR-21 invokes translational inhibition by rearranging
a local subdomain or by altering the architecture of long-range interactions within
its target mRNAs (which range in size from ~2000-4000 nucleotides). In order
to explore the hypothesis that miR-21 triggers a common structural response in
target mRNA causing translational inhibition, Dr. Legiewicz selected three mRNAs
for his study. Each is a direct target of miR-21 and is downregulated in
breast cancer. The results of his study will reveal a novel mechanistic
basis for miRNA-directed regulation of gene expression and new molecular targets
critical in designing more potent therapies against breast cancer and against
cancer in general. This award is the second that Dr. Legiewicz has received
through the NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Award Program (see the text below
for a description of his first award).
2009, Jason Rausch (Le Grice lab) received a $10,000 NCI Director's Intramural
Innovation Award for his application entitled "Incorporating Unnatural Amino Acids
into the Pol V Mutasome for Photo- crosslinking and Single-Molecule FRET."
Dr. Rausch's innovation entails the expression, purification, and utilization
of proteins containing unnatural amino acids to explore structural and mechanistic
aspects of DNA repair in unprecedented ways and using state-of-the-art technologies.
These technologies can be applied to a wide variety of experimental systems, including
those used for drug screening, in which the presence of numerous or catalytically
critical cysteines otherwise prohibits conventional protein labeling. This
award is the second that Dr. Rausch has received through the NCI Director's Intramural
Innovation Award Program (see the text below for a description of his first award).
Legiewicz (Le Grice lab) and Arti Santhanam (Colburn lab)
were awarded $10,000 from the NCI Director's Intramural
Innovation Award Program in 2008 for their proposal "Structural Determinants Within
the 5'-UTR of Cancer-Relevant mRNAs Regulated at the Level of Translation."
The NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Award Program is designed to support
the development of highly innovative approaches and technology aimed at significant
cancer-related problems. Deregulation of protein synthesis is an early event
in cancer progression. In recent years, considerable effort has been focused
on translation as a molecular target for both cancer prevention and therapy.
The novel tumor suppressor PDCD4 functions by inhibiting the RNA helicase activity
of the eukaryotic initiation factor eIF4A and hence the efficient translation
of specific oncoproteins. Applying the innovative RNA mapping technology
SHAPE to determine structural signatures within the 5'-UTR of various mRNAs will
explain why only select mRNAs are targets of PDCD4. In high throughput,
SHAPE will allow examination of multiple RNAs simultaneously or the same RNA under
various conditions. This unique feature makes it possible to monitor minor
RNA structural response to the presence/activity of protein factors at different
concentrations and test the significance of other co-factors that are important
for RNA structure (e.g., divalent cations) or for protein enzymatic function (e.g.,
ATP). No other technology offers this unusual combination of sensitivity,
flexibility for applied conditions, and high throughput. High-throughput
identification of structural signatures defining oncogenic mRNAs will have tremendous
potential in the discovery and design of novel, powerful anticancer drugs.
2006-2007, Jason Rausch (Le Grice lab) and Edward
C.-K. Wu (Hughes lab) were each awarded $10,000 from the NCI
Director's Intramural Innovation Award Program. Dr. Rausch's innovation,
"Evolving Sequence-Specific Integrases and Methyltransferases by In Vitro
Compartmentalization and Selection," uses a novel methodology to simultaneously
screen millions of enzyme variants, with selection based both on targeted binding/activity
and the absence of nonspecific binding activity. Directed evolution has
never been applied in this manner to either of these enzymes, and some of the
proposed methods for linking phenotype with genotype are unprecedented.
Dr. Wu's innovation, "Recombinant Human Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase," makes
it possible to express and purify enzymatically active recombinant human telomerase.
This advance will allow a much better understanding of the structure and function
of human telomerase and has the potential to be used to develop novel anticancer
2009 and 2007 NCI Mentor of Merit Awards
2009 and 2007, Stuart Le Grice was nominated for the NCI Outstanding
Mentor Award and was selected as a Mentor of Merit. Dr. Le Grice received
one of the highest rankings in a competitive review in which nominees were "judged
on their records as mentors; their accessibility to trainees; their ability to
communicate and provide instruction and constructive feedback; their capacity
to provide an environment conducive to science and learning; their propensity
to give credit to trainees and promote visibility of their work; and their attention
to the career development needs of those they mentor." NCI Director John
Niederhuber presented Dr. Le Grice with the Mentor of Merit citation at the
NCI Director's Awards ceremony in October 2009.
Student Science Jeopardy Tournament
Brittany Ashe and David Kaiser-Jones won the
3rd Annual NCI-Frederick Scientific Library Student Science Jeopardy Tournament
in 2009, competing against 11 other 2-student teams in the traditional Jeopardy
"answer and question" format. Brittany and David are students working in the
Le Grice lab with mentors Jason Rausch
and Michal Legiewicz, respectively.
from left to right: Jason Rausch, Brittany Ashe,
and David Kaiser-Jones
NIH Merit Award
Stuart Le Grice was nominated
and selected to receive a 2009 NIH Merit Award with Robert Yarchoan (HIV and AIDS
Malignancy Branch, NCI). Robert Wiltrout, Director of the Center for Cancer
Research, NCI, nominated Drs. Le Grice and Yarchoan for this Group Award, titled
HIV/AIDS and HIV Malignancy Leadership Group, for leadership in promoting and
supporting research in HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated malignancies in the NCI.
Temin Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)
2008, Mario P.-S. Chin (Hu lab) successfully competed
for a Howard Temin Pathway to Independence (PI) Award (K99/R00) from the National
Institutes of Health. The PI Award Program establishes and maintains a strong cohort of new and talented NIH-supported independent investigators. Subsequent to receiving this award, Dr. Chin accepted a position at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) in New York as the first ADARC Scholar. At the ADARC, he has established an independent research program that is focused on the evolution and adaption of HIV-1 in response to antiviral drug and host immune selection pressures.
In 2007, Chandravanu Dash (Le Grice lab) received a PI Award from the National Institute
on Drug Abuse for his proposal "Role of Nucleic Acid Structure in HIV-1 Replication."
The long-term goal of Dr. Dash's PI award was to elucidate the mechanism of interactions
between essential viral and cellular enzymes with their nucleic acid substrates
during HIV replication. New and important biochemical data obtained from
this proposal would facilitate our understanding of the mechanism of
HIV-1 replication, which is essential to designing better and effective drugs
against HIV. Dr. Dash was mentored by Dr. Stuart Le Grice and co-mentored
by Dr. Vineet KewalRamani of the HIV DRP at NCI-Frederick. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research at Meharry Medical College; his research program is focused on understanding how drugs of abuse influence HIV/AIDS.
Kitazato Shibasaburo Award
In 2008, Kazushi Motomura (Hu lab) won the Kitazato Shibasaburo Award in recognition of the important findings from a study on HIV-1 and HIV-2 recombination that he reported with Jianbo Chen and Wei-Shau Hu (J. Virol. 82: 1923-1933, 2008). This award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the infectious disease field in Japan.
Investigator Award, 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium
Luttge (Freed lab) was awarded the Young Investigator Award for his oral presentation
at the 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium in Vienna, Austria.
for Excellence in Graduate Research, Catholic University of America
Kearney was awarded the Benedict T. DeCicco Award for Excellence in Graduate
Research in 2008 by the Biology Faculty of the Catholic University of America.
Award, 2008 Spring Research Festival Symposium
Luttge (Freed lab) won a travel award for the best oral presentation
at the 2008 NCI-Frederick Spring Research Festival Symposium on "Virology:
from Genetic Vehicles to Human Pathogens."
modified: 21 September 2018