Grant Awarded To Innovative Professor

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Iswar Hariharan, a UC Berkeley professor of cell and developmental biology, won a grant totaling $800,000 from the National Institutes of Health to aid his study of novel strategies to promote tissue regeneration, the organization announced Wednesday.

Hariharan's research was among 38 projects chosen to receive part of a $42.2 milllion grant through the institute's new program, EUREKA.

The program is designed to solicit exceptional, unconventional research approaches with the potential to have major impacts on biomedical or biobehavioral research, said Susan Haynes, program director in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which led the development of the program.

Hariharan's research, which will receive $200,000 per year for four years, involves the study of how tissue growth is regulated, focusing on the developing fruit fly as a model organism. He and his research team hope their studies will reveal what genes come into play to promote regenerative growth in damaged tissue and why some tissues lose the ability to regenerate as they age.

"We're trying to work in this area of regenerative growth, which is far less understood," Hariharan said. "We hope that what we discover in the fruit fly might point towards strategies that improve regeneration of damaged tissue in humans."

Rachel Smith-Bolton, who is doing her postdoctoral research with Hariharan at UC Berkeley, has been working on the design and implementation of the project.

"Iswar is a fantastic mentor who has a reputation for creative and elegant research," Smith-Bolton said in an e-mail. "I have learned a great deal working with him and I've been fortunate to be in the lab at this exciting time."

The program application was different from standard research grant applications in that it was shorter and asked applicants to emphasize the impact of their study, the element of risk involved and the novelty of the work, Haynes said.

Haynes said she is excited about how Hariharan's research can advance biomedical science.

"That's the type of transforming, paradigm-shifting research that we were really looking to support with this program," Haynes said.


Contact Emily Grospe at [email protected]

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