Dr. Klaus Hahn, Thurman Professor of Pharmacology and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center was awarded a pretigious Transformative Grant Award by NIH, it was anounced Sept. 24, 2009. Transformative grants are funded through the Office of the NIH Director and the Common Fund, and are intended to support research that has the potential to transform the way we think about and conduct science. Only a few are awarded each year and they go to researchers with a bold, new approach. Dr. Hahn's grant is titled, "Quantitative Imaging of Signaling Networks."
Dr. Hahn is collaborating with Harvard University's Gaudenz Danuser, Ph.D., to develop new methods of measuring how information flows through large signaling networks within cells. "Our goal is to build on our laboratory's expertise in biosensor design and live cell imaging, combined with Dr. Danuser's expertise in image analysis of dynamic cellular processes, to design completely new ways to observe the complex signaling processes that take place both within living cells and within larger networks of cells," said Dr. Hahn. Current laboratory methods are unable to observe the subtle and rapid changes critical to cell behavior, nor are they adequate for measuring or imaging signaling within complex cellular networks. Hence, they do not imitate what happens in the human body very well. Dr. Hahn and colleagues hope their novel approach will enhance sensitivity in these areas, leading to a better understanding of signaling within living cells and larger networks of cells. Cellular signaling lies at the heart of nearly all cell behaviors, so a better understanding of the subtleties of signaling can generate new insights regarding basic biological processes such as metabolism and aging as well as diseases ranging from cancer to neurological disorders.