Two young faculty members — assistant professors Ke Xu of chemistry and Denis Titov of molecular and cell biology — were among 89 recipients of “high-risk, high-reward” grants announced last week by the National Institutes of Health.
Xu and Titov received NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards, which support “unusually innovative research from early career investigators” who have never received an NIH grant before. Each grant comes with $1.5 million in direct funds for five years.
Titov, who joined the faculty this year, seeks to understand how changes in energy metabolism affect aging and age-associated diseases. A graduate of Novosibirsk State University in Russia and Johns Hopkins University, he focused on bioactive natural produces and pioneered novel approaches for studying and manipulating energy metabolism in living cells during postdoctoral studies at MIT.
Xu, who is a Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, develops new physical and chemical tools to explore biological, chemical and materials systems at the nanoscale with extraordinary resolution and sensitivity. He takes a multidimensional approach that integrates advanced microscopy, spectroscopy, cell biology and nanotechnology. Xu is a graduate of Tsinghua University in China and Caltech and completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard University.
In all, NIH issued 10 Pioneer awards, 58 New Innovator awards, 10 Transformative Research awards and 11 Early Independence awards for 2018. Funding for the awards comes from the NIH Common Fund and other Office of the Director appropriations; National Cancer Institute; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; National Institute of Mental Health; and Office of Research Infrastructure Programs.