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Biologist honored with NSF award

January 10, 2014

NSF Grants $950,000 to Study Causes of Mad Cow and Other Prion Diseases

smiling manSina Ghaemmaghami, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Rochester, has been recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a scientist who “exemplifies the role” of teacher-scholar. The NSF has named Ghaemmaghami a winner of its Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER).

The award includes a five-year grant totaling $950,000 to fund Ghaemmaghami’s research into protein folding.

“Sina is already recognized as one of the brightest in his field,” said John Jaenike, chair of the University’s Department of Biology. “His work on protein folding and proteomic turnover is of central importance to understanding basic cell physiology.”

Proteins are involved in nearly all functions of an animal cell and, consequently, are essential to all organisms. But before proteins can do their job, they must fold into the appropriate shapes that allow them to connect to and interact with other structures in the cell. Misfolded proteins can result in a variety of age-related diseases, as well as prion diseases, which are degenerative conditions that affect the nervous system.

Ghaemmaghami said he is “excited that the award will help fund his research into protein folding, which may provide fundamental insights into mad cow and other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Ghaemmaghami earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University in 2001. He joined the University of Rochester faculty in 2012 after six years at the University of California, San Francisco.

“As an early-career scientist, this award will go a long way in helping me establish a viable long-term research program at the University,” said Ghaemmaghami. “I especially appreciate the special focus this award places on the integration of education, which will lead to research opportunities for more undergraduates.”

The CAREER Award is given to junior faculty “who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

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Category: Science & Technology