Pitt assistant prof gets $300K award for biology research

April 27, 2018

A researcher and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been named a 2018 Searle Scholar.

As part of the Searle Scholars Program, Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis, assistant professor of computational and systems biology, will receive $300,000 over the next three years to support her research in evolutionary biology.

The program names 15 scholars each year, funding exceptional young scientists who participate in high-risk, high-reward independent research and have recently become tenure-track assistant professors.

Carvunis’ research aims to answer the question — “What makes each species unique?” — by understanding how cells and organisms evolve.

Her work focuses on questions such as how new genes can emerge from scratch without having parent genes; how networks of interacting molecules form and change within cells; and how these networks differ across species.

“My goal is to understand how living systems innovate,” Carvunis said. “The funds generously provided by the Searle Scholars Award will allow me to reach this goal.”

“A characteristic of all of the new scholars is their willingness to take on ambitious and often risky research projects that, if successful, will have enormous impact in their scientific fields,” said Doug Fambrough, scientific director for the Searle Scholars Program.”

Carvunis has received other awards, including a medal of Honor for her doctoral work from the University of Grenoble, the L’Oreal-Unesco Award For Women in Science, and the Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health.

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