Bear, Caron and Heise named 2008-09 Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship winners

Three junior faculty members receive the award each year.

The winners were Kathleen M. Caron, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell and molecular physiology; Mark T. Heise, Ph.D., assistant professor in the departments of  genetics and microbiology and immunology; and James E. Drs. James Anderson, Kathleen Caron, Etta Pisano, and David KaufmanBear, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell and developmental biology.

The winners were announced Friday, October 10 by Dr. Etta Pisano, vice-dean for academic affairs and Kenan professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at the UNC School of Medicine. Each winner will receive $20,000 over the next four years.

Jefferson Pilot fellows are selected each year. The aim of the program is to attract and retain promising junior faculty in the School of Medicine. Recipients of the fellowship are given public recognition of their prior achievements and of the school's confidence in their future. Also, the monetary award allows recipients a greDrs. Linda Van Le, Robert Johnston, Mark Heise, Etta Pisano, Terry Magnusonater degree of freedom to explore new ideas, new ways of teaching students, treating patients or investigating biological problems than may be available from other granting agencies.

Caron has already made a series of innovative and groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of how blood and lymphatic vessels are formed.  The applications of this work range from placenta development and risks of infertility to the pathogenesis of lymphedema to lymphatics in cancer metastasis.

The goal of Heise's research program is to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the role that viral and host genetic variation plays in determining the outcome of virus-induced disease. A member of the Carolina Drs. Bankaitis, Bear and Pisano Vaccine Institute, his work focuses on using disease models to identify the mechanisms by which viruses such as Rift Valley Fever and SARS avoid human immune responses.

Bear's laboratory utilizes the techniques of high-resolution live cell microscopy, biochemistry, gene silencing/disruption and other molecular manipulations to uncover some of the underlying mechanisms of cell motility. His research focuses on actin-based cell motility, a key component in many cellular processes relevant to clinical problems such as cancer metastasis, birth defects and compromised immune function. Bear is also a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The fellowship was created through the generosity of the Jefferson Pilot Corp., which established a trust fund within The Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc.

School of Medicine contact: Les Lang, 919-966-9366 or llang@med.unc.edu

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