FACULTY AWARD: Garcia receives NIH award

Sept. 29, 2010, 3:30 p.m.

Benjamin Garcia, an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton, is a recipient of the Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which supports innovative research and promising new investigators.

The award, which provides $1.5 million in funding over five years, will support Garcia's research on the mechanism behind how genes are turned on and off during the progression of cancer. The New Innovator Award, given this year to 52 scientists, was created to help early-stage investigators with exceptionally innovative research ideas who do not have the preliminary data required to fare well in the traditional NIH peer review system, according to the organization. 

"NIH is pleased to be supporting early-stage investigators from across the country who are taking considered risks in a wide range of areas in order to accelerate research," said Francis Collins, the director of NIH. "We look forward to the results of their work."

Garcia's lab examines gene-associating proteins called histones to determine if a pattern of modification is present on these proteins that correlates with various processes including cancer pathology. The scientists use cutting-edge protein sequencing technology, which has dramatically improved the speed and accuracy of measuring these enigmatic sets of proteins.

Garcia has taught at Princeton since 2008. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Davis and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He served as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois's Institute for Genomic Biology from 2005 to 2008.