Britt Glaunsinger, a University of California, Berkeley, virologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, has won a W. M. Keck Foundation grant, an award given to innovative young scientists in the area of biomedical research.
The grant, which totals up to $1 million over five years, will go to UC Berkeley to support Glaunsinger's work using the herpesvirus as a tool to study the inner workings of human cells.
The foundation granted five Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research awards this year. Officials at the W. M. Keck Foundation, which supports pioneering medical research, announced the winners on July 28.
"Over the past decade, Keck Young Scholars have consistently produced high-impact research and have advanced to become some of the most prominent scientists in their respective fields," said Robert A. Day, chairman and chief executive officer of the W. M. Keck Foundation, in a prepared statement. "We are proud to have helped jump-start the careers of some of our nation's research leaders and are very pleased to support a new group of young scholars who we believe have the same potential."
Glaunsinger said she is ecstatic to be a recipient. "The great thing about the award is that they are funding ideas that might be too risky for other grant agencies. It allows you to pursue unconventional avenues and get at questions we wouldn't normally be able to ask without this funding," she said. "This pretty much made my year."
Glaunsinger will use the grant money for innovative experiments using the herpesvirus to probe how our cells regulate their RNA. The virus uses a mysterious trick to evade the immune response: It destroys all the RNA inside every cell it infects. Glaunsinger's research group has identified the key viral protein involved in the widespread destruction, but no one yet understands how it works.
Glaunsinger thinks the virus is co-opting some of t
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University of California - Berkeley