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Eric Bennett and Brenda Bloodgood Win NIH New Innovator Awards

October 6, 2015

Eric Bennett and Brenda Bloodgood

Eric Bennett and Brenda Bloodgood

By Kim McDonald

Eric Bennett and Brenda Bloodgood, assistant professors of biology, are among four UC San Diego faculty members who will receive New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health of approximately $2.2 million over the next five years to support their “unusually innovative research.”

Kamil Godula, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Darren Lipomi, an assistant professor of nanoengineering, are the other two UC San Diego faculty members who will this year receive the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, which is designed to support early career biomedical medical researchers pursuing high-risk, high-reward research efforts. Only 41 scientists nationwide this year received the awards.

Bennett, who is in the Section of  Cell and Developmental Biology, will receive his award for research on integrated molecular and systems-level approaches to uncover and define cellular pathways that can be specifically manipulated to limit the accumulation of defective and harmful proteins.

“The decoding of genetic material into the proteins that carry out all cellular and tissue functions is a relatively error-prone process,” he explained. “As such, numerous cellular systems have been put in place to both limit the production and facilitate the removal of defective protein products. Defects in the cellular protein quality control system have been linked to a large array of human aging associated pathologies including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.”

Bloodgood, who is in the Section of Neurobiology, and colleagues in her laboratory will be undertaking a research effort to elucidate the cellular mechanisms that allow active synapses to rapidly communicate to the nucleus of nerve cells, which has been a major challenge for the field of neurobiology.

More information on the New Innovator Award, which was established in 2007, and on this year’s 41 awardees is available at: