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IMAGE: Yongxin (Leon) Zhao received an NIH New Innovator Award to develop new nanoscale pathology technology. view more 

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Yongxin (Leon) Zhao, assistant professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award. The award is part of the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program.

The program supports risky ideas that have the potential for great impact in biomedical research, and catalyzes scientific discovery by supporting compelling, high-risk research proposals that may struggle in the traditional peer review process despite their transformative potential. Program applicants are encouraged to think outside the box and to pursue creative, trailblazing ideas in any area of research relevant to the NIH mission.

The grant will support Zhao as he develops transformative nanoscale imaging techniques that will allow researchers to see precise “biomolecule maps” in pathology samples. These maps will allow for the comprehensive analysis of complex diseases, such as cancer, infection and immune diseases.

Our bodies are made of molecular building blocks such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates that are assembled with nanoscale precision. Misconfiguration of these building blocks is a tell-tale sign of many diseases.

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