Transformative awards for Mocarski's malleable cells, lung fibrosis

The National Institutes of Health has announced a five-year, $1.9 million Transformative Research Award to Emory virologist Edward Mocarski, PhD for his work on how the mechanisms of programmed cell death can be subverted.

Mocarski is Robert W. Woodruff professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Vaccine Center. His research, which originated in probing how cells commit suicide when taken over by viruses, could lead to advances in regenerative medicine and organ transplant. He is also a faculty member in the IMP and MMG programs.

The grant, funded through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one of nine “high-risk-, high-reward” Transformative Research Awards (13 recipients) announced by the NIH on October 6.

“This Transformative award was made possible because of the creative and engaged graduate students and postdoctoral fellows I have had working with me at Emory,” Mocarski says.

In 2011, Mocarski, working with former graduate student William Kaiser and Emory geneticist and faculty member in the GMB and NS programs, Tamara Caspary, showed that two complementary forms of programmed cell death, necrosis and apoptosis, can be genetically excised from mice, leaving a viable animal with a functioning immune system.

The proposal was developed in collaboration with Emory colleagues Edmund Waller, MD, PhD, faculty member in the CB and IMP programs, and Mandy Ford, PhD, IMP faculty member, as well as colleagues from Stanford, Houston Methodist Research Institute and GlaxoSmithKline, Mocarski says.

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