Assistant Professor Neal Silverman receives a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at White House Ceremony 

July 26, 2006 

WORCESTER, Mass.-University of Massachusetts Medical School Assistant Professor of Medicine Neal S. Silverman, PhD, was recognized today as one of the country's most talented rising scientific stars in a White House ceremony applauding the 2006 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Awards. The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. 

 Dr. Neal Silverman 

Neal Silverman, PhD 

Granted to a select group of professionals each year, the awards are intended to recognize and nurture some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. 

"I was so humbled just to be nominated among so many of my exceptional peers for this award," said Dr. Silverman. "To be chosen to receive such a prestigious prize is extraordinary and I have no doubt that this will be one of the highest honors of my professional career."  

A member of the Division of Infectious Disease and Immunology at UMMS since 2001, Silverman is an emerging leader in the field of innate immunity, the only form of immunity in insects and the foundation for the adaptive immune system in mammals, which acts as the first line of defense against a range of pathogens. Using Drosophila (the common fruit fly) as a model system, he is seeking to understand the mechanisms involved in the immune system's recognition of a pathogen and the pathways that then lead to specific innate immune responses to protect the host from these pathogens.  With the support of the funding associated with the PECASE award, Silverman will continue to work on projects with significant implications for the treatment of inflammatory disease.  

"We are so fortunate to count Dr. Silverman as a talented member of our impressive cadre of faculty," said UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare, MD. "The PECASE Award is a fitting tribute to his accomplishments and is but one more indication that UMass Medical School is one of the leading research medical schools in the country." 

Instituted in 1996, the PECASE Awards embody the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the United States' leadership position in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to the participating agencies, which include the National Science Foundation, National Science and Technology Council, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Silverman was nominated by the National Institutes of Health based on the strength of his grant proposal, "Activation of Insect Immunity by Gram-negative Bacteria." 

"Dr. Silverman's selection to this honor is in recognition of a young scientist who is already having a high impact on his field. I have been struck by the large number of truly noteworthy individuals studying innate immunity who have been influenced by Neal's publications and his thinking," said Douglas T. Golenbock, MD, professor of medicine and molecular genetics & microbiology and Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease and Immunology. "He is considered one of the best of the young American scientists in the field." 

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information visit . 

For more information about the PECASE Award, visit 

Contact: Kelly Bishop