Top NIH prize goes to three pioneering Stanford scientists

STANFORD, Calif. - For the second year in a row, three Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have snagged one of the National Institutes of Health's top prizes: the annual NIH Director's Pioneer Award. The prize provides each winner with $2.5 million over five years to pursue new research directions that are not already funded.

The 2006 recipients from Stanford are Kwabena Boahen, PhD; Karla Kirkegaard, PhD; and David Relman, MD. The 13 winners, selected from a pool of 465 applicants, will be announced by the NIH Sept. 19 in Bethesda, Md. With three winners, Stanford has more awardees this year than any other institution - and the most total since the award was established in 2004.

Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, welcomed the news. "I am pleased that since the program started two years ago, Stanford faculty have been selected for seven of the 34 Pioneer Awards, reflecting the excellence and innovative spirit of Stanford and our faculty," he said.

In each of the three years of the award's history, one of Stanford's winners has come from the Department of Bioengineering, which is jointly managed by the schools of engineering and of medicine.

"When Stanford founded its Department of Bioengineering four years ago we envisioned that it would be a place for the brightest minds in the field to tackle important problems at the intersection of the life sciences, medicine and engineering," said James D. Plummer, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering. "We are honored that NIH has recognized a member of our bioengineering faculty with this award for a third consecutive year."

The Pioneer Award funds scientists with creative ideas who propose novel approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. Ben Barres, MD, PhD, professor of neurobiology and of developmental biology at Stanford, served on the team that reviewed award applications and met with finalists this year as well as last year (he st

Contact: Mitzi Baker
Stanford University Medical Center

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