The American Heart Association has presented OMRF scientist Hong Chen, Ph.D., with its Established Investigator Award.
The award, which includes a five-year research grant, supports mid-career investigators with “unusual promise and an established record of accomplishments.”
“This award is a big boost to any scientist’s career, and I am honored the scientific community sees me as being among the best of the best in the cardiovascular field,” said Chen, who received her Ph.D. from Yale in 1999. “The award money will help bring more research and more grants to OMRF, and it also helps elevate our status among research institutes.”
In the lab, Chen examines the novel impact a set of proteins called epsins have on the cardiovascular system. Her work has relevance to the development and function of both blood and lymphatic vessels, processes critical both to maintaining cardiovascular health and the development of heart disease.
Other aspects of her work touch on cancer and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, her research has broad relevance to many scientists at OMRF, which forms the basis for current and future collaborations.
“This is AHA’s most prestigious grant. It is very competitive, and only a small percentage of applicants are funded,” said Rodger McEver, M.D., who heads OMRF’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program. “The award is given to investigators who have established outstanding independent research programs but who are still early in their careers. It recognizes both accomplishment and great promise for the future.”
The award’s flexible funding enables recipients to broaden the scope and accelerate the pace of their research, McEver said.
Chen has received numerous accolades throughout her young career, including recent recognition as a 2013 recipient of the Irvine H. Page Young Investigator Award and a 2014 OMRF Merrick Award for Outstanding Research. She joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 2008.
“Dr. Chen publishes in the best journals, she has established contacts and collaborations with leading scientists at many other institutions, and she is developing an international reputation for her innovative research,” said McEver. “She brings prestige to OMRF and Oklahoma.”