NIH Collaborators Receive Eastern Bloc Grants

Five researchers who are collaborating with NIH intramural scientists are among the 90 scientists in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union chosen to receive a new type of grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), based in Bethesda. The grants range from $22,000 to $35,000 annually for five years, and 60 of the grants also provide $2,500 to $3,500 per year for collaborating scientists.

Acknowledging that the grants are small by U.S. standards, HHMI President Purnell Choppin says he thinks that the money will still go a long way toward strengthening international scientific ties and helping researchers in former Eastern Bloc nations to modernize their labs and undertake new experiments. The funds can be used to pay for salaries, travel, supplies, equipment, computer and communication services, and journals.

Selected from more than 2,000 applicants, the grant recipients with collaborative links to NIH intramural scientists are Laszlo Hunyady and Andras Liptak of Hungary, Mariusz Jaskolski of Poland, and Sergei Nedospasov and Dmitry Anatoly Gordenin of Russia.

Hunyady is an associate professor in the physiology department of Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest. In conjunction with NICHD's Kevin Catt, Hunyady is examining how the receptor for angiotensin, a polypeptide in the blood, generates signals and is regulated. Liptak, a professor of biochemistry at the L. Kossuth University in Debrecen, Hungary, is working with NICHD's Vince Pozsgay to develop a vaccine against Shigella sonnei, a parasite that causes dysentery. Jaskolski, who is an associate professor at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Poznan, Poland, collaborates with Alexander Wlodawer of NCI's Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center (FCRDC) on studying the structure of certain enzymes useful for treating leukemia. Nedospasov is working with Nancy Rice, also of NCI-FCRDC, on how the transcription factor NF-kB/Rel regulates gene expression by interacting with DNA. Nedospasov is the head of the cytokine molecular biology unit at the V.A. Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow. Together with NIEHS's Michael Resnick, Gordenin is exploring the genetic consequences of inverted DNA repeats, which are common in many organisms. Gordenin is a leading research fellow in the physiological genetics laboratory at St. Petersburg State University in Russia.

"We were very impressed with the quality of their [the grant recipients'] research, especially since so many of them are working under extremely difficult conditions," HHMI's Choppin says.

- Anne Blank, NICHD, and Lorna Heartley

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