UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL RESEARCHER DAVID GUERTIN, PhD, NAMED 2010 PEW SCHOLAR IN THE BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES

June 17, 2010

Guertin Pew 
 David A. Guertin, PhD
Assistant professor of molecular medicine David A. Guertin, PhD, has been named a 2010 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Dr. Guertin is a 2002 graduate of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences whose work focuses on understanding how nutrients and growth factors control tissue regeneration and cancer.

The Pew Biomedical Scholars program enables scientists to take calculated risks, expand their research and explore unanticipated leads. Scholars receive $240,000 over four years and gain inclusion in a select community of scientists that includes three Nobel Prize winners, three MacArthur Fellows and two recipients of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.

“Faculty colleagues in the Program in Molecular Medicine are thrilled that David has been named a Pew Scholar—it is an honor well deserved,” said Michael P. Czech, Professor and Chair of the Program in Molecular Medicine. “David exemplifies the great scientific qualities that drive breakthrough acts of discovery, and the fact that as a GSBS graduate he is a ‘home grown’ scientist adds further to our pride in him.”

Guertin completed his doctoral work in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology at UMMS, where he worked in the laboratory of Dannel McCollum, PhD, professor of molecular genetics & microbiology. He then moved to the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research to conduct postdoctoral work with 2003 Pew Scholar David M. Sabatini, PhD; he returned to UMMS in September 2009.

“The naming of David Guertin as a prestigious Pew Scholar is very significant for UMMS,” said John L. Sullivan, MD, vice provost for research. “David was our top candidate, from a field of 400 applicants, recruited from a very productive post-doc at MIT. We are very proud to have him as a member of our community of scholars.”

“Being named a Pew Scholar is a tremendous honor,” said Guertin, 34. “The Pew Scholars program is known for supporting innovative junior scientist who show promise to be leaders in their field and I am looking forward to interacting with such a prestigious group. The Pew committee encourages applicants to be bold in their proposals and to aim for research that might not fit the usual funding criteria of more traditional granting organizations. Pew challenges young scientists to think outside the box and be creative.”

In his Pew application, Guertin proposed using genetics to define how a specific signaling pathway—groups of genes that work together in a cell to control one or more cell functions—regulate muscle stem cells. His goals include improving muscle stem cell generation and producing therapeutic strategies to treat muscle degenerative diseases, such as muscular dystrophy.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the program has invested more than $125 million to fund nearly to 500 scholars. Many of the nation’s best early-career scientists—working in all areas of physical and life sciences related to biomedical research—apply to the rigorously competitive program. Applicants are nominated by one of 155 invited institutions and demonstrate excellence and innovation in their research.

“Twenty-five years ago, The Pew Charitable Trusts identified a tremendous opportunity to impact the world of science by supporting the most promising young investigators and encouraging them to pursue their best ideas without restrictions,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Motivating scientists at this point in their careers is essential to advancing discovery and innovation, and Pew is honored to continue its commitment to this cadre of high-quality researchers.”

Work by 2010 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences includes research related to cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease and birth defects. Information about the 2010 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences, including full biographies of the 21 fellows selected, and information regarding their research, is available at www.pewscholars.org.

Other Pew Fellows among UMMS faculty include: Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of molecular medicine and cell biology and 2006 Nobel Laureate; Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair of Biomedical Sciences and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; and Lambertus (Bert) van den Berg, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life (www.pewtrusts.org).

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
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 $240 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.