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Three UCI Scientists Receive National Innovator Awards

Aaron Esser-Kahn, Sunil Gandhi and Ali Mortazavi will each receive $2.3 million for five years to fund their projects.

Ali Mortazavi, Sunil Gandhi and Aaron Esser-Kahn at UCI. Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI.
Ali Mortazavi, Sunil Gandhi and Aaron Esser-Kahn at UCI. Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI.
Three UC Irvine scientists Monday were named recipients of prestigious, national innovator awards and will each receive $2.3 million to fund their research projects.

Aaron Esser-Kahn, Sunil Gandhi and Ali Mortazavi each received the 2013 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Awards.

The award program supports projects by early-career researchers that show potential to transform scientific fields and find new ways to improve human health.

Esser-Kahn, Gandhi and Mortazavi will each receive $2.3 million for five years to fund their projects. They are among 41 investigators nationwide who received the awards.

Esser-Kahn is an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences. His research seeks to understand vaccine effectiveness by looking at structure of its molecular components.

Gandhi is an assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior in the School of Biological Sciences. He is studying whether transplanting a type of nerve cell that dampens activity can rewire neural pathways in the adult brain to repair damage caused by traumatic brain injury.

Mortazavi is an assistant professor of developmental & cell biology in the School of Biological Sciences. His project will explore how DNA codes the precise activities of genes involved with development.

More information on the NIH's High Risk-High Reward Research Program is at: http://commonfund.nih.gov/highrisk/.


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