The winners were Kathleen M. Caron, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell and molecular physiology; Mark T. Heise, Ph.D., assistant professor in the departments of genetics and microbiology and immunology; and James E. Bear, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell and developmental biology and member of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Each will receive $20,000 over the next four years.
The Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship program aims to attract and retain promising junior faculty in the School of Medicine, and offer them greater freedom to explore new ideas and ways of teaching students and treating patients or to investigate biological problems.
Caron’s research looks at how blood and lymphatic vessels are formed. Her work has applications ranging from placenta development and risks of infertility to how cancer spreads within the body.
Heise investigates the role genetic variation in viruses and hosts plays in determining the outcome of virus-induced diseases. A member of the Carolina Vaccine Institute, his work includes identifying what stops the human immune system from destroying viruses such as Rift Valley Fever and SARS.
Bear’s laboratory uses various techniques to study the mechanisms of the movement of cells, or cell motility. His research focuses on actin-based cell motility, a key component in many cellular processes relevant to problems such as cancer metastasis, birth defects and compromised immune function.
The fellowship was created through the generosity of the Jefferson-Pilot Corp., which established a trust fund within the Medical Foundation of North Carolina.