PHILADELPHIA – James Shorter, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the School of Medicine, has been named an inaugural recipient of the 2007 NIH Director's New Innovator Award. This highly prestigious award totals $1.5 million in direct costs over five years to each of 29 investigators, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers. More than 2,100 applications were received for this extremely competitive program.
James Shorter, PhD
As a key component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research, the New Innovator Award program supports exceptionally creative early-career scientists who take highly innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. Shorter will develop biochemical methods to combat diseases caused by nerve degeneration, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s.
“Novel ideas and new investigators are essential ingredients for scientific progress, and the creative scientists we recognize with NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards and NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards are well-positioned to make significant-and potentially transformative-discoveries in a variety of areas,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD.
“This award is an honor, and a relief, in a way, to now be able to focus on my research in a significant way,” says Shorter. Shorter’s lab seeks to understand how cells prevent, reverse, or even promote the formation of amyloid and prion fibers, extremely stable protein aggregates implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases. He aims to test his ideas using a panel of proteins that are implicated in human disease to search for potential cures for these disorders.
When amyloid fibers grow and divide they can be infectious, and are then termed prions. Prion and amyloid formation are associated with some of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases confronting humans, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
Cells have evolved a sophisticated machinery to alleviate amyloid and prion aggregates, but these biological safeguards can be breached, especially as organisms age, and the consequences are often fatal. Working in a yeast model, Shorter and colleagues employ biochemistry and genetics to understand how the interactions between amyloid proteins and other proteins can be manipulated to avoid pathogenic outcomes and promote beneficial outcomes.
Shorter received his PhD from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund at University College London in 2000 and moved to Penn from the Whitehead Institute in Boston in April 2007.
Information on the 2007 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award can be found here.
PENN Medicine is
a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions
of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in
patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical
school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the
nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented
medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the
National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in
NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400
fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is
recognized worldwide for its superior education and training
of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders
of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes
three hospitals — its flagship hospital,
the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of
the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World
Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — a
faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $425 million awarded in the 2018 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 40,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2018, Penn Medicine provided more than $525 million to benefit our community.