Kathrin Plath, Ph.D.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has named UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center member Kathrin Plath a 2016 Faculty Scholar.

The new Faculty Scholars Program is a collaboration between HHMI, the Simons Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to recognize early-career scientists who have great potential to make unique contributions to their field.

The philanthropies will spend about $83 million over five years to support the first cohort of 84 Faculty Scholars to receive grants. The range of five-year grant award totals is $600,000-$1.8 million, including indirect costs

Plath is a professor of biological chemistry. Her research seeks to understand how cells progress during development from a pluripotent state, meaning they have the unlimited ability to turn into any cell type in the body, to a tissue-specific cell type that has limited abilities. Understanding the developmental process will enable Plath to more efficiently and effectively reprogram tissue-specific cells such as skin or blood back into a pluripotent state, which could facilitate the development of personalized cell therapies for a range of diseases.

An HHMI press release stated:

“This is the first collaboration between HHMI, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The philanthropies joined forces to create this program in response to growing concern about the significant challenges that early-career scientists are facing. The career trajectory for early-career scientists has become much less certain as competition for grant support intensifies. In the last two decades, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic decline in the National Institutes of Health research award success rate for scientists, as well as a striking increase in the average age at which an investigator receives his or her first R01-equivalent grant.”


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