Friday, July 24, 2009

MGH pathologist receives HHMI grant

Eleven physician-scientists from seven institutions nationwide have been selected recipients of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Early Career Physician-Scientist Awards. Miguel Rivera, MD, of the MGH Pathology Service, is among the talented group selected for this grant. Awardees receive a total of $375,000 over five years to advance their research.

Rivera is studying Wilms tumor, the most common type of kidney cancer in children. In 2007, he discovered WTX, a tumor suppressor gene that is inactivated in about a third of Wilms tumors. Based on his studies, Rivera believes WTX also plays an important role in normal kidney development. He hopes continued investigation may offer further insight into WTX, other similar genes and their relationship to pediatric cancer.

"The mechanisms behind many types of pediatric cancer remain unknown," says Rivera. "This award will allow us to use cutting-edge genomic technologies to identify new genes involved in these diseases."

The Early Career Physician-Scientist Awards are part of an overall HHMI initiative designed to support and encourage promising physician-scientists at a vital stage in their careers. Sixty-three individuals have received the award since the program's inception, including eight previous recipients who are MGH investigators.

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