Faculty Award: Gitai, Murphy receive NIH Pioneer Awards

Written by
Office of Communications, Princeton University, Communications Staff
Oct. 8, 2015

Princeton University faculty members Zemer Gitai, professor of molecular biology, and Coleen Murphy, professor of molecular biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, are among 13 researchers nationwide to receive 2015 Pioneer Awards from the National Institutes of Health. The awards are part of the NIH Common Fund's High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, which supports investigators pursuing bold research projects.

Gitai will focus on developing new antibiotics that manipulate the sensory information bacteria rely on to initiate growth and host infection. Because Gitai's method does not simply kill bacteria, it could prevent antibiotic resistance, which arises when mutant bacteria fill the void left by the exterminated dominant strains.

Murphy will expand on her research to understand the gene networks in tissue that allow genes to communicate and regulate whole-body processes such as longevity and metabolism. She will work to indentify RNA transcriptions in every tissue of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, then use computational models to identify inter-tissue gene networks.