$1.95M NIH/NIGMS Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award

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Professor Jorge Torres has been awarded a highly prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) R35 Grant from the NIH/NIGMS.

The $1.95M NIH/NIGMS Maximizing Investigator Research Award (MIRA) will be used to support Torres’ research focused on investigating the human cell division machinery. His lab will take multidisciplinary approaches to advance current knowledge on the repertoire of enzymes, and their mechanistic functions, that are critical for human cell division. These studies will also advance the understanding of how dysregulation of these enzymes can lead to human developmental and proliferative diseases.

The MIRA program supports investigators’ overall research programs through a single, unified grant rather than individual project grants. The goal is to provide investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs. 

Torres received a bachelor’s degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from UC Santa Barbara in 1998 and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University in 2004. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Genentech Inc. before joining the UCLA faculty in 2009.

In 2020, Torres was honored by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in recognition of his lifelong commitment to mentoring students and he was recognized in Cell Press’ list of 100 inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America.  In 2019 Torres received UCLA Academic Senate’s Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award and the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Prize for Excellence in Inclusivity. In 2018, he received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award

Torres’ group investigates mitotic spindle formation during cell division and its misregulation in human diseases, especially cancer. The lab’s major focus is to understand how multiple mechanisms and enzymatic activities coordinate the formation of the mitotic microtubule spindle during cell division.  To learn more about the Torres group’s research, visit their website.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.