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Third Salk researcher wins distinguished NIH New Innovator Award

Scientists at the Salk Institute have scored a rare hat trick with a third assistant professor from the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center being named a recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award.

Hu Cang

Hu Cang

Hu Cang will receive the New Innovator Award for 2014, joining the two other Salk researchers who were previous recipients of the prize. The award will provide Cang with $1.5 million to support his research on cutting- edge microscopy.

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award is a highly selective program with hundreds of researchers from the nation’s top scientific institutions competing for the award. Cang, along with a select group of other young investigators, will receive this funding to pursue novel ideas with the potential to have a significant impact on human health.

“We are very proud of Dr. Cang and grateful for NIH’s continuing support of young researchers who pursue creative and highly innovative science,” says William Brody, president of the Salk Institute. “The ability to see molecular components of cellular structures is crucial to advancing biology and medicine, and his work is expanding the frontiers of microscopy.”

The New Innovator Award will support Cang in his work in developing a “super lens” that sees things far smaller than previously possible. Cang’s group has already made a microscope that can focus light down to a smaller point than ever before, letting them track individual proteins on the surface of a cell.

“The fact that three of our junior faculty at the Salk have won this prestigious award speaks to our ability to recruit the very best young scientists and highlights the exceptionally high quality of science that we do here,” says Martin Hetzer, faculty director of the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of Salk’s Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation Chair.

Björn Lillemeier, an assistant professor in the Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and Axel Nimmerjahn, an assistant professor in the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center, received the award in 2012.