Eun Ji Chung, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, has received the NIH New Innovator Award. Announced today by the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, Chung’s proposal was one of 58 New Innovator proposals, also known as a DP2, selected nationwide and is only one of four USC projects that the NIH New Innovator Award program has selected in USC’s history.
The NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Awards are awarded to creative scientists proposing high-risk, high-impact research and support unconventional approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research. In particular, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, supports innovative research from early career investigators. Chung, whose lab is based in the new USC Michelson Center for Convergence Bioscience, joined USC in the fall of 2016 and will apply the award to advancing research at the intersection of biology and nanotechnology.
With over $2.4 million in funding from this NIH grant, Chung will develop a new approach to a type of kidney disease, known as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). The condition, which is the most commonly inherited kidney disorder, is difficult to treat without dialysis or transplantation as medicine is easily expelled from the body or accumulates in high levels in organs for which it was not intended. To date, precision and nanomedicine has not been applied to ADPKD; however, early this year, Professor Chung developed a nanoparticle known as a micelle that can load medicine and directly target the kidney. With this new NIH funding, Chung will design and test a library of nanotherapeutics for ADPKD.
“Our approach is the first of its kind and represents a paradigm shift from current therapies to treat polycystic kidney disease, ” said Chung.
“With this support from the NIH, our lab will be able to direct a library of therapeutics that are in various stages of FDA approval to shuttle specifically to diseased kidneys, and will be an enabling step towards our long-term goal of applying them in clinical trials and improving the quality of life for ADPKD patients,” said Chung.
“We are delighted to see Professor Chung’s innovative ideas being recognized and supported by the NIH with this prestigious award. More importantly, we are excited that the work to be conducted will bring new breakthrough therapies to treat diseases that are eluding current treatment,” said USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos.
The recipients of the NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Program awards will be recognized at the NIH High-Risk, High Reward Research Symposium in June 2019.
More information about this grant can be found at the NIH High-Risk, High-Reward website, with grant number DP2 DK121328.