Skip to main content

Three UC San Diego Biologists Receive Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar Awards

September 27, 2016

By Erika Johnson

Three University of California San Diego professors in the Division of Biological Sciences have been named Faculty Scholars by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Simons Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Honorees include Professor Samara Reck-Peterson and Professor Gürol Süel as well as Associate Adjunct Professor Clodagh O'Shea.

Reck-Peterson, Süel and O’Shea were among 84 scholars across the nation chosen this year by the institute from over 1,400 applicants. The HHMI Faculty Scholars program supports early career researchers who have strong potential to make groundbreaking contributions to fundamental problems in diverse areas of biology. The goal is to provide basic researchers and physician scientists with the time and freedom to pursue difficult, long-range questions in creative, collaborative and interdisciplinary ways. Each researcher receives a five-year grant in the range of $600,000 to $1.8 million.

Learn more about this year’s UC San Diego HHMI Faculty Scholars:

A smiling woman with blonde hair, Professor Reck-Peterson

Professor Samara Keck-Peterson

Samara Reck-Peterson, PhD

Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, Division of Biological Sciences

HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar

Samara Reck-Peterson wants to understand the driving factors behind microtubule-based transport within cells. Microtubule networks and the motors that move on them stretch throughout cells and play critical roles in cellular processes such as division, development, and neuronal function. Deciphering the overarching principles that regulate and support the transport system could help reveal how even subtle disruptions can lead to neurological disease.

A man with dark eyes and hair, Professor Suel

Professor Gürol Süel

Gürol Süel, PhD

Professor, Molecular Biology

HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar

Gurol Suel studies how bacteria coordinate their behavior to collectively organize into communities called biofilms, which have a higher resilience against antibiotics. His research suggests that, similar to neurons in the brain, bacteria use electrical cell-to-cell signaling mediated by ion channels to coordinate their action.

A blonde woman pensively looking to the left with chin in hand, Professor O'Shea

Associate Adjunct Professor Clodagh O’Shea

Clodagh O'Shea, PhD

Associate Adjunct Professor, Molecular Biology, UC San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences

HHMI Faculty Scholar

Clodagh O'Shea wants to understand the mechanisms of cancer growth, and she has turned to a common respiratory pathogen, adenovirus, for help. O'Shea discovered that adenovirus genetics and replication machinery hint at how cancer proliferates. Using the virus as a model, she hopes to decipher the principles that govern cancer growth and apply that knowledge to create more effective treatments.