| First NIH Director's Pioneer Award Recipients Named
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected the first recipients
of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, a program designed to
support individual scientists and thinkers with highly innovative
ideas and approaches to contemporary challenges in biomedical research.
A central component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the
Director’s Pioneer Award was established in January 2004 to
encourage exceptional researchers and thinkers from multiple disciplines
to conduct high-risk, high-impact research related to the improvement
of human health.
“We are extremely pleased by the overwhelming number and caliber
of nominations we received,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni,
M.D. “By bringing the awardees’ unique perspectives
and creativity to bear on key medical research questions, these
scientific Pioneers may one day develop seminal theories or technologies
that will propel science forward to improve human health.”
To inaugurate this new program, the NIH will provide $500,000 in
direct costs per year for five years to each Pioneer Award recipient,
allowing them the time and resources to test far-ranging ideas with
the potential to make extraordinary contributions to medical research.
The awardees are listed below:
- Larry Abbott, Ph.D., Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
- George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., Children’s Hospital Boston,
- Homme Hellinga, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, Durham,
- Joseph McCune, M.D., Ph.D., J. David Gladstone Institutes,
San Francisco, CA
- Steven McKnight, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- Chad Mirkin, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
- Rob Phillips, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology,
- Stephen Quake, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology,
- Sunney Xie, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
The nine recipients represent a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines
including quantitative and mathematical biology, pathogenesis, epidemiology
and translational clinical research, molecular and cellular biology,
integrative physiology, instrumentation and bioengineering.
Applicants underwent a rigorous nomination and selection process
to establish which among them appeared to hold the greatest potential
for addressing critical scientific questions that would greatly
impact biomedical science and health care. Nominees and applicants
were expected to demonstrate commitment to accepting considerable
risk in addressing critically important scientific questions relevant
to the mission of the NIH.
External evaluators representing a broad range of scientific disciplines
screened approximately 1000 nominations and recommended that a subset
of 240 nominees be invited to submit award applications. Further
review by external evaluators resulted in the selection of 21 candidates,
who were invited to the NIH for interviews and to present their
ideas. The recommendations of the panel of external evaluators who
interviewed the 21 candidates were considered by the Advisory Committee
to the Director (ACD), NIH, and by the NIH Director, himself.
The applicants were evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Evidence of scientific innovation and creativity;
- Testimony of intrinsic motivation, enthusiasm and intellectual
- Potential for scientific leadership and evidence of, or
potential for, effective communication skills.
For more information on the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award
Program, including awardee information, please visit the Web site
The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research is a series of far-reaching
initiatives designed to transform the Nation's medical research
capabilities and speed the movement of scientific discoveries from
the bench to the bedside. It provides a framework of the priorities
the NIH must address in order to optimize its entire research portfolio
and lays out a vision for a more efficient and productive system
of medical research. Additional information about the NIH Roadmap
can be found at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov.
News and information about the NIH is available at http://www.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary
Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and
translational medical research. NIH is comprised of 27 institutes
and centers and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for
both common and rare diseases.