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Recent Staff Awards, HIV Dynamics and Replication Program, National Cancer Institute
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Travel Awards, HIV DRP Think Tank Meeting

    Mauricio Comas-Garcia (Rein lab) and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) received $1000 travel awards from the HIV DRP for the two most meritorious talks by NCI fellows at the 2017 HIV DRP Think Tank Meeting. Recipients of the HIV DRP Think Tank Travel Awards in 2016 were Mariia Novikova (Freed lab) and Mauricio Comas-Garcia (Rein lab); 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) in 2014; Joanna Sztuba-Solinska (Le Grice lab) and Chris Case (KewalRamani lab) in 2013; Hyun Yu (KewalRamani lab) in 2012; Kayoko Waki (Freed lab) in 2011; and Muthukumar Balasubramaniam (Freed lab) and Michal Legiewicz (Le Grice lab) in 2010.

Young Investigator Awards, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

    Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab), Belete Desimmie (Pathak lab), Justin Kaplan (Freed lab), Camille Lange (Maldarelli lab), Yang Liu (Hu lab), Andrew Musick (Kearney lab), Mariia Novikova (Freed lab), and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) received Young Investigator Awards to present their research findings at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). Recipients of this highly selective CROI travel scholarship in previous years include Camille Lange (Maldarelli lab), Mariia Novikova (Freed lab), and Emiko Urano (Freed lab) in 2016; Elizabeth Anderson (Maldarelli lab), Luca Sardo (Hu lab), and Sarah Watters (Maldarelli lab) in 2015; Taisuke Izumi (Pathak lab) and Lillian Kuo (Freed lab) in 2013; Zandrea Ambrose (KewalRamani lab) in 2007 and 2006; and Catherine Adamson (Freed lab) in 2007.

2017 NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence

    Sanath Kumar Janaka (Pathak lab) received a 2017 NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) for travel to attend and present his work at a scientific meeting in the U.S.  This award, which acknowledges outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows, is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, and Office of Intramural Training and Education and is funded by the Scientific Directors.  FARE awards are based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality/presentation of the abstracts.

    The following Fellows in the HIV DRP were FARE awardees in previous years:

        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
        Alok Mulky (KewalRamani lab), 2010
        Jessica Smith (Pathak lab), 2010
        Catherine Adamson (Freed lab), 2009
        Michael Moore (Hu lab), 2009
        Rebecca Russell (Pathak lab), 2009
        Yi Wang (Le Grice lab), 2009
        Michaela Wendeler (Le Grice lab), 2009
        Krista Delviks-Frankenberry (Pathak lab), 2008
        Mario P.-S. Chin (Hu lab), 2006 and 2007
        Chandravanu Dash (Le Grice lab), 2007
        Yeshitila Friew (Pathak lab), 2007
        Karine Gousset (Freed lab), 2007
        Patricia Henry (Pathak lab), 2007
        Kazushi Motomura (Hu lab), 2007
        Galina Nikolenko (Pathak lab), 2007
        Olga Nikolaitchik (Hu lab), 2006

Photo of Drs. Henry, Nikolenko, Rudick, Gottesman & Friew at 2007 FARE ceremony

    Shown from left to right: Patricia Henry, Galina Nikolenko, Joyce Rudick (Director of Programs and Management, NIH Office of Research on Women's Health), Michael Gottesman (NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research), and Yeshitila Friew.

Norman P. Salzman Memorial Poster Award in Virology

    Photo of Belete Desimmie 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.


Travel Awards, Fall HIV/AIDS & Cancer Virology Think Tank Meeting

    Mariia Novikova and Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) won $1000 travel awards for their outstanding talks at the 2016 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 travel awards were 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 Ina O'Carroll (Rein lab) in 2015, Philip Tedbury (Freed lab) in 2014, and Angelica Martins and Emiko Urano (Freed lab) in 2013.

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.

Scholarship 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.

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.

    Emiko Urano (Freed lab) received an IARF award in 2016 to support her research project on "Development of Potent and Broadly Active HIV-1 Maturation Inhibitors."

    Mariia Novikova (Freed lab) received an IARF award in 2016 to support her research project on "Mechanisms of HIV-1 Gag Lattice Formation and Env Incorporation."

    Rachel Van Duyne (Freed lab) received an IARF award in 2015 to support her research project on "Characterizing the Host Cell Factors Involved in HIV-1 Gag Trafficking to Sites of Virus Assembly."

    Belete Desimmie (Pathak lab) received an IARF award in 2014 to support his research project on "Identification of Novel Class of HIV Replication Inhibitors Targeting the HIV-1 Vif-A3G Interactions."

    Robert Buckheit (Freed lab) received an IARF award in 2014 to support his research project on "The Effect of Host Antiviral Restriction Factors on Viral Budding and Maturation."

    Chris Case (KewalRamani lab) received IARF awards in 2013 and 2014 to support his research project on "Innate Immune Detection of HIV-1."

    The following HIV DRP Visiting Fellows received IARF awards in 2011 and 2012 to support their research projects:

    Lillian Kuo (Freed lab):  "Characterizing the Role of HIV-1 p6-Alix Binding in HIV-1 Cell-to-Cell Infectivity"

    Humeyra Taskent (Le Grice lab):  "Incorporating Unnatural Photoactive Amino Acids into Viral Capsids to Look for Host Proteins with Which They Interact"

    Philip Tedbury (Freed lab):  "HIV-1 Gag in Assembly and Release: Interactions with gp41 and Cellular Host Factors"

    Narasimhan (Jay) Venkatachari (Pathak lab):  "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) received an IARF award in 2009 to support her research proposal on "The Application of Small Angle X-ray Scattering to Define the Structure of the HIV-1 Rev Response Element (RRE)." 

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
        Michal Legiewicz (Le Grice lab), 2008
        Krista Delviks-Frankenberry (Pathak lab), 2007
        Bilguujin Dorjsuren (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

NIH Postbac Poster Day Awards

    Nishani Kuruppu and Justin Kaplan (Freed lab) were honored for presenting two of the best posters on NIH Postbac Poster Day in April 2016. Established in 2001, NIH Postbac Poster Day added a judging component in 2011 to highlight the contributions of postbaccalaureate fellows to the NIH Intramural Research Program. Awardees are recognized for having authored posters that score in the top 20% of all posters presented.

    Previous DRP postbac fellows who were recipients of Outstanding Poster Awards on NIH Postbac Poster Day include Brian Ogendi (Le Grice lab) in 2014 and Tiffany Tanzosh (Maldarelli lab) in 2012.

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.).

    Photo of NCI Integration Sites Analysis Group in Sept 2015
    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).

    Photo of Rachel Van Duyne and Mariia Novikova with other SRK Fellows in 2015

    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

    Studio photo of Joanna Sztuba-Solinska 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.

Travel 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

    Photo of Maria Hamscher with 2013 Frederick County Science & Engineering Fair Awards 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.”

    Photo of Marion Bona and Eckart Bindewald accepting 2012 SAIC Corporate Award

Scholarship 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.

    Nancy 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

    Photo of Tobias Paprotka 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.

Postdoctoral 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.

    Photo of NCI Director Harold Varmus with Eric Freed and other 2010 Mentor of Merit awardees

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.

NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Awards

    Photo of NCI Director Harold Varmus presenting award in 2011 to Sabrina LusvarghiIn 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.
     

    Photo of NCI Director John Niederhuber presenting 2010 award to Legiewicz 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).
     

    Photo of NCI Director John Niederhuber presenting award in 2009 to Jason RauschIn 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).
     

    Photo of NCI Director John Niederhuber presenting award to Legiewicz and SanthanamMichal 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.
     

    Photo of NCI Director John Niederhuber presenting award to Jason Rausch

    In 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 therapies.

2009 and 2007 NCI Mentor of Merit Awards

    In 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.

2009 NCI-Frederick 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.

Photo of Jeopardy contest winners Brittany Ashe & David Kaiser-Jones & mentors Jason Rausch & Michal Legiewicz

    Shown from left to right: Jason Rausch, Brittany Ashe,
    Michal Legiewicz, and David Kaiser-Jones


2009 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.

Howard Temin Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

    In 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.

    Photo of Chandravanu Dash, Research Fellow in HIV Dynamics and Replication Program 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.

Young Investigator Award, 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium

    Benjamin Luttge (Freed lab) was awarded the Young Investigator Award for his oral presentation at the 2008 International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium in Vienna, Austria.

Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Catholic University of America

    Mary 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.

Travel Award, 2008 Spring Research Festival Symposium

    Benjamin 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."



Last modified: 25 April 2017




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