Vicki P. Losick of the MDI Biological Laboratory (ME, USA) has been recognized as an ‘outstanding investigator’ by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for her research on wound healing. The designation carries a grant award in the amount of about US$348,000 per year for five years, or a total of about US$1.7 million.
The grant will support Losick’s research on the regulation of polyploidization in wound repair utilizing fruit flies. Polyploidization is a mechanism that supports cell enlargement by duplicating chromosome number. This research has implications beyond wound healing, however, since polyploid cell growth is also associated with cancer and other degenerative diseases, including heart and liver diseases. Losick’s goal is to identify the factors that regulate the creation of these extra-large cells in order to promote a beneficial response and to limit the degenerative consequences.
“Losick has made an important contribution to biomedical science in the discovery polyploidy as an alternative wound healing strategy,” commented Kevin Strange, president of the MDI Biological Laboratory. “Her research exemplifies the institution’s mission of developing therapies that draw on the body’s innate ability to heal. We are delighted the NIH has recognized her work with this prestigious award.”
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The Outstanding Investigator Award for Early Stage Investigators, which was introduced last year, is an extension of the NIH’s prestigious MIRA (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, or R35) program, whose goal is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of science funding by supporting an investigator’s overall program of research through a single unified grant rather than through multiple, smaller grants.
“The premise of the MIRA award is to allow researchers to focus on the vision and impact of their research programs,” Losick explained. “Since the award is not tied to a specific set of experiments, the funding stability it offers will allow my group the freedom to go in new directions and to tackle ambitious problems as they arise.”
“It’s a great opportunity to have received this mechanism of support,” she continued. “It will allow me to focus on mentoring my trainees and performing research that could one day unlock the key to polyploidy’s role in health and disease.”
The award is supported by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus S. King Jr. (I-ME), who have been advocates of NIH-funded research support as a means of maintaining the nation’s position as global leader in biomedical research, and of saving lives and reducing health care costs in Maine and throughout the country.
“The MDI Biological Laboratory is on the cutting edge of scientific research, and Maine is fortunate to have dedicated scientists like Dr. Losick working to advance modern medicine right here in our home state,” the senators remarked in a joint statement. “This grant funding, coupled with Dr. Losick’s outstanding work, will ensure the MDI Biological Laboratory can continue its research into healing serious wounds that impact countless Americans and their families across our country.”