Three Triangle scientists have won prestigious awards to further their research.
Tannishtha Reya, an associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University, and Joseph DeSimone, a chemistry professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State, each have received this year's National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer award. The award comes with a five-year, $2.5 million grant.
Also at Duke, Michel Bagnat, assistant professor of cell biology, won an NIH Director's New Innovator award. That includes a $1.5 million grant over five years. Bagnat won for his research on cystic fibrosis.
Reya, co-director of Duke's Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine program, studies the chemical signals that control stem cell growth, research that could lead to new cancer treatments.
For DeSimone, the award is another prize for his collection. The co-founder of Liquidia Technologies in Durham, DeSimone will use the money to further nanotechnology research based on using tiny particles to deliver doses of medicines, the company announced this morning.
"The efforts of Professor DeSimone and his research team are leading to discoveries of novel and effective delivery methods to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases," said Liquidia CEO Neal Fowler, in a prepared statement.
DeSimone also is a chemistry professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State. Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named DeSimone the winner of its Lemelson Prize. Known as the "Oscar for inventors," the award included $500,000 cash.
He co-founded Liquidia in 2004. The company, which employs 48, currently is working on a vaccine it hopes to begin early stage clinical testing soon.