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USC’s Eun Ji Chung, Andy McMahon receive prestigious NIH grants

The two awards will provide more than $6 million to advance cutting-edge research at USC in kidney disease and how organs communicate with each other

NIH new innovator and tranformative director awards
Eun Ji Chung, left, and Andy McMahon were honored with awards from the National Institutes of Health. (Photos/Noé Montes and Phil Channing)

Two USC researchers have been named as recipients of 2018 grants from the National Institutes of Health High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. The prestigious grants support ideas with potential for great impact in biomedical research from across the broad scope of the NIH.

The recipients will be recognized at the NIH High-Risk, High Reward Research Symposium in June.

Eun Ji Chung

Eun Ji Chung, Gabilan assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has received the NIH New Innovator Award. Established in 2007, the award supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency and have not yet received a research project grant or equivalent NIH grant.

Chung, whose lab is based in the new USC Michelson Center for Convergence Bioscience, joined USC in the fall of 2016 and will apply the award to advancing research at the intersection of biology and nanotechnology.

With over $2.4 million in funding (NIH grant number DP2 DK121328), Chung will develop a new approach to a type of kidney disease known as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. The condition, the most commonly inherited kidney disorder, is difficult to treat without dialysis or transplantation as medicine is easily expelled from the body or accumulates in high levels in organs for which it was not intended.

Read more about the award and Chung’s work on the USC Viterbi website.

Andy McMahon

USC Stem Cell scientist Andy McMahon has joined forces with top scientists at Harvard and Stanford universities under the auspices of the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. Established in 2009, the award promotes cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches and is open to individuals and teams of investigators who propose research that could potentially create or challenge existing paradigms.

The award will bring more than $4 million of funding to the McMahon Lab over the next five years (NIH grant number R01DK121409) to decipher the complex, little-known language organs use to communicate with each other about the basic physiological processes necessary for life — from blood pressure regulation to pH balance to metabolism.

The project was initiated by Norbert Perrimon from the Howard Hughes Institute and Harvard Medical School. Perrimon will contribute his expertise in fly genetics and inter-organ interactions. McMahon’s group will take the lead on mammalian signaling and genetics.

“The goal of our collaboration is to pioneer a new way to identify and understand key proteins that enable organs to communicate with each other throughout the body,” said McMahon, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Read more about the award and McMahon’s work on the USC Stem Cell website.

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USC’s Eun Ji Chung, Andy McMahon receive prestigious NIH grants

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