The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today that Dr. Diana M. Bautista was selected as a 2009 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Awards this year were given to 17 early-career scientists who display outstanding promise in research relevant to the advancement of human health.

MCB Ph.D Alumni Zev David Bryant is also among the 2009 awardees.

As a Pew Scholar, Dr. Bautista will receive a $240,000 award over four years to support her research and gains inclusion into a select community of scientists that encourages collaboration and the exchange of ideas.

“Pew’s Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences recognizes and supports promising young scientists in advancing human health,” says Shelley A. Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group. “Unlike many traditional research grants with strict guidelines on how funds must be used, our program allows participants to try out new investigative directions as their research unfolds. Flexibility, we feel, is an important key to encouraging the scientific creativity that often leads to spectacular results.”

Diana M. Bautista, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Stanford University in 2002. She completed her postdoctoral work in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, in the Department of Physiology. In 2008, she joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.

Dr. Bautista works in the field of sensory neuroscience. The ability to detect touch and pain rely on our somatosensory system and the somatosensory neurons that convey our senses. Dr. Bautista’s work centers on identifying the molecules that signal to neurons to convey these stimuli. She has developed experiments in a cell model to stimulate and detect responses in mammalian mechanosensensory neurons. In addition, she is using a novel model organism for touch reception: the star-nosed mole, whose nose is the most sensitive touch organ known due to its innervations by ~100,000 sensory neurons. Her efforts of understanding mechanosensory transduction in mammals will be highly relevant to the treatment of diseases such as AIDS and diabetes that impair the ability to detect feelings of pain and touch.

Now in its 25th year, the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences has invested more than $125 million to fund over 460 scholars. Many alumni have received prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, MacArthur Fellowships and the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.

The 2009 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences are:
Frank Alber, Ph.D. (University of Southern California)
Diana M. Bautista, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley)
Jon P. Boyle, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)
Zev D. Bryant, Ph.D. (Stanford University)
Jennifer G. DeLuca, Ph.D. (Colorado State University)
Qing R. Fan, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Kevin A. Janes, Ph.D. (University of Virginia)
John K. Kim, Ph.D. (University of Michigan)
Alexander Meissner, Ph.D. (Harvard University)
Charles G. Mullighan, M.D. (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)
Patrick J. Paddison, Ph.D. (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
Joseph R. Pomerening, Ph.D. (Indiana University)
Nicholas J. Priebe, Ph.D. (University of Texas at Austin)
Melissa M. Rolls, Ph.D. (The Pennsylvania State University)
Joshua W. Shaevitz, Ph.D. (Princeton University)
Ben Z. Stanger, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)
R. Grace Zhai, Ph.D. (University of Miami)

For full biographies and information regarding the scholars’ research, please visit:

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