MIT team finds that the ratio of component atoms is vital to performance.
Three MIT faculty are among 16 scientists nationwide to receive 2008 Pioneer Awards from the National Institutes of Health for their "pioneering -- and possibly transforming -- approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research."
Professors Alexander van Oudenaarden, Aviv Regev and Alice Y. Ting will each receive $2.5 million over five years.
Now in its fifth year, the Pioneer Award program is designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity at any career level.
"These highly creative researchers are tackling important scientific challenges with bold ideas and inventive technologies that promise to break through barriers and radically shift our understanding," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the NIH.
Van Oudenaarden, the W.M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering and a professor of physics, "will explore the role of random variables in gene expression during cellular development and specialization."
Regev, an assistant professor of biology also affiliated with the Broad Institute, "will examine how the regulatory networks that control cell function change over time in development, disease and evolution," according to the NIH.
Ting, the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry, "will develop new technologies to image and study proteins in living cells."
Previous Pioneer winners from MIT include Emery Brown of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (2007) and Arup K. Chakraborty, the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biological Engineering (2006).