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Two NYU School of Medicine Researchers Awarded New Pew Research Prizes

A research team at NYU School of Medicine and its Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine is one of six from across the United States to receive newly established innovation funds from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ biomedical programs.

Robert Froemke, PhD, and Dan Littman, MD, PhD, will share a research award of $200,000 over the next two years. The Pew effort, launched this week, is designed to drive breakthroughs in biomedical research through support of collaborative, interdisciplinary research by pairing scientists who, individually, have previously received Pew funding.

In announcing the new awards, the Pew Foundation stated that Dr. Froemke and Dr. Littman will jointly “explore the interface between neuroscience and immunology, using techniques from one system to investigate the other.”

Dr. Froemke is a neuroscientist who specializes in efforts to understand the impact of brain chemicals on animal behavior. Dr. Littman is an immunologist with expertise on T cells and HIV, who has also led investigations on how intestinal bacteria trigger autoimmune disease.

Dr. Robert Froemke

Dr. Robert Froemke 

With support from Pew and others, Drs. Froemke and Littman have plans to probe “how the neuronal sensing of gut microbes and intestinal function can alter an animal’s behavior, work that could help map how information is relayed from the gut to the nervous system to promote recovery from illness.”

“Collaborations are at the root of all major scientific discoveries because every scientist is a subspecialist in one field or another, and no one can do all the investigative research on most big problems on their own,” says Dr. Froemke, an associate professor of otolaryngology—head and neck surgery, physiology, and neuroscience at NYU School of Medicine and a member of its Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. Dr. Froemke was named a Pew scholar in 2012.

“We applaud the Pew effort and are honored to be among the first class of their latest awards,” says Dr. Littman, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology at NYU School of Medicine and a member of Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. Dr. Littman served as a Pew scholar advisor from 2007 to 2013.

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