News Release

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twelve Early-Career NIH Researchers Receive Prestigious Award

Twelve NIH-supported researchers have been awarded the nation’s highest honor for scientists at the outset of their professional careers. Ten NIH grantees and two intramural NIH scientists were selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to receive the prestigious 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). They were honored in a ceremony at the White House with President George W. Bush on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008.

The PECASE program represents the high priority the federal government places on leadership in the sciences. Since its inception in 1996, the PECASE program has sought to enhance connections between fundamental scientific research and national goals. NIH’s PECASE winners have achieved excellence in multiple disciplines of biomedical research and have complemented their research efforts with a strong commitment to education and mentorship in their communities.

"NIH is extraordinarily proud of these 12 PECASE winners who have, early in their research careers, shown exceptional potential for scientific leadership," Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., Acting NIH Director said. "Supporting new young scientists, particularly in these challenging economic times, is a priority for NIH. We look forward to continued success from these outstanding investigators as they push the frontiers of medical research." Dr. Kington and all of NIH extend congratulations to the following researchers:

  • Thomas Blanpied of the University of Maryland School of Medicine his work on protein organization in brain neurons;
  • Kevin Eggan of Harvard University for reprogramming patient cells into pluripotent stem cells;
  • Raymond Habas of Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine in Piscataway, New Jersey for his discoveries regarding gastrulation during embryogenesis;
  • Amy B. Heimberger of the University of Texas for her research on central nervous system immune biology;
  • James C. Iatridis of the University of Vermont for his research on engineering for the prevention of intervertebral disc degeneration;
  • Francis S. Lee of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University for pioneering research that may lead to novel treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders;
  • Michael J. MacCoss of the University of Washington for development of mass spectrometry and stable isotope-based technologies;
  • Suchitra Nelson of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio for research on factors that lead to dental caries in low birth weight infants;
  • Laura E. O’Dell of the University of Texas, El Paso for her insights into the neurobehavioral mechanisms that mediate adolescent tobacco use;
  • Li Zhang of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine for innovative research on the structure and function of neural circuitry in the auditory cortex;
  • Daphne W. Bell and Eliott H. Margulies, both of the National Human Genome Institute at NIH, for their contributions to the field of human genomics.

The Office of Extramural Research serves as the focal point for policies and guidelines for extramural research grants administration. This office has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of NIH Grants Policy, including peer review, monitoring of compliance with Public Health Service policy on Humane Use and Care of Laboratory Animals, coordination of program guidelines, and development and maintenance of the information systems for grants administration. Please visit its Web site for additional information:

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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