Today the Pew Charitable Trusts named Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Lorin Olson, Ph.D., one of 22 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences for 2012.
Olson, who came to OMRF in 2010, is an assistant member in the Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program. His research focuses on fibrosis, the creation of scar tissue in disease, which is a cause of organ failure in the heart, kidneys and liver.
“Dr. Olson’s work is innovative and important,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “By approaching fibrosis from a developmental biologist’s perspective, he’s opening up new avenues of understanding that could have important implications for treating many diseases.”
Launched in 1985, the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences identifies and invests in talented researchers in medicine or biomedical sciences. It is a rigorously competitive program where recipients receive $240,000 over four years to pursue their research without restriction.
Applicants who work in all areas of physical and life sciences related to biomedical study must be nominated by an invited institution and demonstrate both excellence and innovation in their research. This year, 179 institutions were requested to nominate a candidate, and 134 eligible nominations were received.
“Unlike grant money, the Pew award isn’t tied to any specific research, so it can be used for discoveries that might have trouble attracting traditional funding,” Olson said. “But a real boon is being able to connect and collaborate with Pew Scholars past and present.”
Past Pew Scholars have gone on to win MacArthur Fellowships, the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award and three Nobel Prizes. Olson is the third member of OMRF’s faculty to receive a Pew award; OMRF researchers Susannah Rankin, Ph.D., and Jose Alberola-Ila, M.D., Ph.D., have also been past recipients of the award.
“During these challenging budgetary times when traditional sources of funding are becoming even harder for scientists to obtain, we are proud to back our country’s most promising scientists,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “This funding comes at points in the Scholars’ professional lives when they often are the most innovative. While this program is a bold investment for us, it has paid incalculable dividends due to our Scholars’ record of producing groundbreaking research.”
“The support from the Pew Foundation will accelerate the pace of our discoveries and have a long-term impact on our efforts to understand the biological basis of fibrosis,” Olson said. “And for me personally, it is a huge honor.”