University of Maryland School of Medicine scientist receives prestigious presidential award

A University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty member has received the 2003 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the nation's highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers. Steven D. Munger, PhD, assistant professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, was honored for his research into the sense of taste.

Dr. Munger's study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is investigating how sweet receptors on the tongue interact with chemically different substances, such as table sugar or an artificial sweetener. The research could lead to new and more versatile artificial sweeteners that taste more like natural sugar. Alternative artificial sweeteners could benefit those battling obesity or diabetes.

The award was presented in Washington by John H. Marburger III, Science Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Congress established OSTP in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the impacts of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.

Established in 1996, the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers honors the most promising beginning researchers in the nation within their fields. Eight federal departments and agencies annually nominate scientists and engineers at the start of their careers whose work shows the greatest promise to benefit the nominating agency's mission. Participating agencies award these beginning scientists and engineers up to five years of funding to further their research in support of critical government missions.

"I was very surprised and very honored to learn of the award," said Dr. Munger, who will receive a two-year grant extension and an additional $750,000 in funding to continue his research. "I feel a strong sense of responsibility to live up to the confidence that

Contact: Larry Roberts
University of Maryland Medical Center

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