Bear named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist

James Bear, Ph.D., associate professor of cell and developmental biology, has been selected to receive a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award.

Bear, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will receive a six-year grant to fund his research into proteins associated with cell motility and melanoma.

Vytas Bankaitis, Ph.D., professor and chair of the cell and developmental biology department, said the institute could not find a more deserving awardee than Bear. “As chair, I find it personally gratifying that the HHMI chose to make this prestigious award to Jim because his recruitment to and development as an independent scientist within UNC testifies to the long-standing ‘bottom-up’ philosophy that makes UNC great – that is, to invest in talented young basic scientists with the confidence that such investments will blossom.”

Shelley Earp, M.D., director of the Lineberger Center, said Bear’s award was a tremendous honor for him and for the University. “The Howard Hughes Medical Institute selects only the best and brightest scientists to fund. Jim’s fundamental and advanced live cell microscopy techniques are probing the mysteries of cell motility and tumor cell metastases. His findings have the potential to help clinicians understand how to treat diseases such as melanoma and glioblastoma.”

Bear came to UNC in 2003 following a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT in the laboratory of Frank Gertler. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and his doctoral degree in cell and developmental biology from Emory University. From 2001-2004, he was a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Special Fellow.

The institute’s Early Career Scientist awards identify the nation’s best biomedical scientists at a critical early stage of their faculty careers, and provide them with flexible funding to develop scientific programs of exceptional merit. Bear is one of 50 researchers in the United States selected by the institute this year.

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