PHILADELPHIA - James Shorter, PhD, assistant professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics has received a 2009 Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging. New Scholar candidates are investigators who are nominated by U.S. medical institutions and universities for their outstanding promise in aging research. The award provides funding up to $100,000 per year for a four year period to a maximum of 25 scholars.

“I'm delighted, but also a little bit surprised to have won this award. When you consider the quality of the other awardees, it’s clearly a great privilege. The Ellison New Scholar Award in Aging is also very special because I am now following in the footsteps of some very cool scientists like Ana Maria Cuervo and David Sinclair,” says Shorter.

New Scholar awards provide support for newly independent investigators, beginning in the first three years after their postdoctoral training. These awards allow young scientists to staff their laboratories, collect preliminary data, and organize research programs of sufficient momentum to obtain ongoing support from other sources.

Shorter studies how baker’s yeast can be applied to the study of such lethal nerve degeneration disorders as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which are associated with the clumping of specific proteins. Yeast expresses a protein called Hsp104, which is able to dissolve and reactivate misfolded proteins that are trapped in toxic protein clumps.

“We aim to engineer Hsp104 to work more effectively in this de-clumping process,” explains Shorter. “We are focusing on two specific proteins that form toxic assemblies in Alzheimer's disease and ALS.”

Shorter received his undergraduate degree from Keble College, University of Oxford and his PhD from University College London.

For more information, please visit the Shorter Lab website.

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