Sua Myong, an assistant professor of Bioengineering, is the recipient of a 2012 NIH Director's New Innovator Award.
Myong, who is a faculty member of the Cellular Decision Making in Cancer theme, is one of 81 researchers are receiving awards to pursue visionary science that exhibits the potential to transform scientific fields and speed the translation of research into improved health, under the High Risk High Reward program supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.
“The Common Fund High Risk High Reward program provides opportunities for innovative investigators in any area of health research to take risks when the potential impact in biomedical and behavioral science is high,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins.
Myong’s research group focuses on the detection of biological molecules such as DNA, RNA and protein with single molecule precision.
“Owing to its unique ability to down regulate a specific gene, RNA interference (RNAi) has been widely used for biological research and applied for therapeutic purposes.” Myong said. “Nevertheless, recent studies report various off-target effects which result in unintended gene silencing or extremely low efficiency of silencing even when the RNA substrates are optimized for its maximal effect.
“We propose to develop series of single molecule and single cell measurement to dissect the RNAi pathway step by step. Each platform will enable one to quantify the efficiency of RNA processing at each step by direct counting of molecules. When engineered into a device, such technique can be adopted by research laboratories and clinical practices for designing siRNA for high silencing potency. Our proposal involves developing novel single molecule platforms which allow quantitative and stepwise analysis of RNAi pathway and opens a new way of assessing and predicting siRNA efficacy.”
In 2012, the NIH is awarding 10 Pioneer awards, 51 New Innovator awards, and 20 Transformative Research awards. The total funding, which represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund and multiple NIH institutes and centers, is approximately $155 million. For more information on the New Innovator award including information on this year's awardees, visit the website http://commonfund.nih.gov/newinnovator.