Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Ruth Ley, Dept of Microbiology, and Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics Faculty member, has recently been named recipient of both a 2010 National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Awards and a 2010 Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering. NIH New Innovator Awardees receive $1.5 million over five years. Ruth’s project proposes to develop immunization strategies to reshape pathogenic microbiomes. The goal is to better understand how the adaptive immune system interacts with microbial diversity, and to use it to reshape microbiotas to a health-promoting state. This research makes use of a mouse model of metabolic syndrome in which the gut microbiota are required and sufficient to cause metabolic syndrome in germ-free wildtype mice. Packard Fellows each receive an unrestricted research grant of $875,000 over five years. Ruth will use genotyped human twins to determine the heritable components of the microbiome and to relate human and microbial genetic variation to investigate how human gene variations driven by cultural changes in diet affect the composition and function of the microbiome. These awards follow on the heels of Ruth’s Beckman Foundation Young Investigator, Pew Foundation Biomedical Scholar (declined), and Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Awards in 2009. Ruth joined Cornell as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology in 2008.