NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award

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Professor Anne Andrews has received a prestigious award from the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. 

Andrews received the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, established in 2009, which promotes cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches and is open to individuals and teams of investigators who propose research that could potentially create or challenge existing paradigms. Andrews’ team includes Paul Weiss (UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry), Yang Yang (UCLA Department of Materials Science and Engineering), Harold Monbouquette (UCLA Department of Chemical Engineering), and Milan Stojanović (Columbia University, Department of Medicine).

As UCLA professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and a Senior Research Scientist in the Hatos Center for Neuropharmacology, Andrews leads efforts in basic and translational research on anxiety and depression, and at the nexus of neuroscience and nanoscience. Her interdisciplinary research team focuses discovering, developing, and using in vivo neurotransmitter monitoring approaches to understand how the serotonin (and other) systems encode emotionally important information.  

Andrews is an elected member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, International Society for Serotonin Research President-Elect, and serves as Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience.  Andrews was invited to the White House for President Obama’s announcement of the BRAIN initiative, which she helped to shape.  To learn more about Andrews’ research, visit her website.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Program, created to support the work of exceptionally creative scientists, is supported by the NIH Common Fund. Eight Transformative Research Awards were made in 2017; a total of 86 grants were awarded across the Program. Two other UCLA investigators received 2017 awards: Olujimi Ajijola, David Geffen School of Medicine (New Innovator Award) and Valerie Arboleda, David Geffen School of Medicine (Early Independence Award).

The program accelerates scientific discovery by supporting high-risk research proposals that may not fare well in the traditional peer review process despite their potential to advance the field. Applicants of the program are encouraged to think outside-the-box and to pursue exciting, trailblazing ideas in any area of research relevant to the NIH mission.

“I continually point to this program as an example of the creative and revolutionary research NIH supports,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The quality of the investigators and the impact their research has on the biomedical field is extraordinary.”

For 2017, NIH issued 12 Pioneer awards, 55 New Innovator awards, 8 Transformative Research awards, and 11 Early Independence awards. The 2017 awards total approximately $263 million, pending available funds, and represent contributions from the NIH Common Fund; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; National Institute of Mental Health; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.