Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)

The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) are the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. These five-year awards are intended to recognize and nurture some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the 21st century.

PECASE first and foremost supports the continued development of the awardees, fosters innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increases awareness of careers in science and engineering, gives recognition to the scientific missions of participating agencies, enhances connections between fundamental research and national goals, and highlights the importance of science and technology for the nation’s future.

National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program (IRP) scientists have been on the list of PECASE recipients every year since 1997. Below is a list of these outstanding young investigators and their research programs. The listed years mark the year in which each recipient recieved his or her award. Members of the PECASE classes of 2015-2017 received their awards in 2019.

  • John Brognard (2019). He investigates genetic and molecular pathways that contribute to the development of cancer.
  • Romina Goldszmid (2019). Her laboratory aims to understand the underlying mechanisms that control how certain immune system cells respond to infections and cancer.
  • Christopher Hourigan (2019). His work focuses on approaches to detect, prevent, and treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that has recurred after initial treatment.
  • Chandra Jackson (2019). Her research examines how environmental and social factors affect sleep and cardiovascular health.
  • Jennifer Martinez (2019). She investigates how immune cells called phagocytes remove pathogens and dead or dying cells from the body.
  • Katherine McJunkin (2019). She studies DNA-like molecules called microRNAs, with a particular emphasis on their functions and behavior in the developing human embryo.
  • Adam Phillippy (2019). His team develops and refines computational techniques to improve gene sequencing.
  • Anish Thomas (2019). His research group tests the ability of pharmaceutical compounds to enhance the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
  • Catherine Weisz (2019). Her laboratory seeks to improve our understanding of the brain's hearing circuitry.
  • Pamela Guerrerio (2016). She investigates genetic and environmental factors that lead to food allergy and other allergic diseases in order to devise new prevention and treatment strategies.
  • Katie Kindt (2015). Her research has shown that the same genes that cause deafness in zebrafish are associated with hearing defects in humans and in mice.
  • Andre Larochelle (2015). He leads a team that is seeking to leverage gene and stem cell-based regenerative therapies for disorders affecting blood-forming stem cells, known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)
  • Jessica Gill (2012). Her research seeks effective ways to identify trauma patients who are at high risk for psychological and neurological deficits and inform the interventions that will support their recovery.
  • Susan Harbison (2012). She investigates the genetic networks underlying sleep and their interactions with the environment.
  • Todd Macfarlan (2012). His research explores fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation and epigenetic inheritance during embryo development.
  • Nihal Altan-Bonnet (2011). Her research identified a common lipid blueprint for viral replication and potential panviral therapeutics.
  • Peter Crompton (2011). His research investigates the mechanisms of naturally-acquired immunity to malaria.
  • Daniel Larson (2011). His research investigates transcription dynamics of single human cells.
  • Justin Taraska (2011). He studies the architecture and control of vesicle fusion in excitable cells.
  • Sonja Best (2010). Her research uses Flaviviruses to elucidate the role of pathogen and cellular proteins in innate immune responses.
  • James Gulley (2010). His research employs randomized, controlled studies using novel, recombinant vaccines to reduce the progression of prostate and other cancers and increase survival.
  • Hari Shroff (2010). He develops and uses super-resolution optical imaging techniques such as photoactivated localization microscopy on whole cells and fast optical scanning techniques such as selective plane illumination microscopy for high-speed volumetric imaging of cells and embryos.
  • Brian P. Brooks (2009). His research uses molecular genetics and developmental studies to understand uveal coloboma, a congenital ocular disease that accounts for about ten percent of childhood blindness.
  • Charles P. Venditti (2009). He studies Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA) and other inherited errors of organic acid metabolism that can lead to lethal disorders in infants characterized by stroke, renal failure, growth impairment, and mental retardation.
  • Kristin Tarbell (2008). Her research focus is on the role of dendritic cells and regulatory T cells in peripheral T cell tolerance induction, and how these mechanisms are altered or deficient in autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes.
  • Daphne W. Bell (2007). The goal of her laboratory is to understand the genetic alterations that lead to clinically aggressive subtypes of endometrial cancer and to apply this knowledge to improve the clinical management of women with endometrial cancer.
  • Eliott H. Margulies (2007). To better decipher genomic information, he develops bioinformatic approaches that utilize ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to sequence and characterize genomes.
  • Alexandra C. McPherron (2006). Her research is focused on the basic biology and clinical applications of myostatin, a secreted protein produced by skeletal muscle that is involved in regulating skeletal muscle mass and which may be a target for the treatment of muscle wasting diseases.
  • Sohyun Ahn (2005). Her studies of the cellular and genetic mechanisms underpinning neural stem cell specification and lineage decisions include the first in vivo evidence that neural stem cells can self-renew for over a year and generate multiple cell types.
  • Daniel Appella (2005). His research uses synthetic organic chemistry to create new molecules with unique biological activity that may provide a new strategy for diagnosing or treating disease.
  • Marisela F. Morales (2004). She uses a combination of molecular biology and high-resolution microscopy to identify and study brain neuronal networks that participate in the biology of various drugs of abuse.
  • Leonardo Belluscio (2003). His laboratory combines molecular and functional techniques to explore the development of the olfactory system with emphasis on neural plasticity associated with neonatal learning.
  • Peter Kwong (2003). His laboratory seeks to apply knowledge gained from structural biology to the design of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
  • Susan K. Buchanan (2002). Her research focuses on the structure determination of integral membrane proteins, with emphasis on ligand recognition, transmembrane signalling, and transport of small and large molecules.
  • Marilyn Diaz (2002). She studies the process of immunoglobulin somatic hypermutation that is activated in B cells during the course of an immune response and used to generate B cells with enhanced ability to recognize and bind foreign antigens.
  • Andrew J. Griffith (2002). His laboratory identifies and characterizes genes, molecules, and mechanisms underlying hearing and hereditary hearing loss.
  • Andrew E. Arai (2001). He studies conditions and diseases that alter the heart’s supply and utilization of energy. His expertise is in the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate patients with heart attacks and coronary heart disease.
  • Orna Cohen-Fix (2000). Her laboratory is interested in two areas of research: cell cycle regulation and nuclear architecture.
  • Jeffrey S. Diamond (2000). His laboratory explores the dynamics and modulation of neurotransmitter release, diffusion and receptor activation at excitatory and inhibitory synapses in the mammalian central nervous system.
  • Ronald Summers (1999). His research interests include virtual colonoscopy, CAD, multi-organ multi-atlas registration and development of large radiologic image databases. His clinical areas of specialty are thoracic and gastrointestinal radiology and body cross-sectional imaging.
  • Weidong Wang (1999). His research has focused on the regulation of mammalian gene expression at the chromatin level. He has purified to homogeneity one of the first ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complexes in mammals, and has subsequently cloned all the subunits within one complex.
  • Jeffrey Struewing (1998). His research has focused on breast and ovarian cancer and has included epidemiologic and laboratory studies in family- and population-based settings.
  • David A. Wassarman (1997). His laboratory is interested in understanding how signal transduction pathways regulate gene expression and development.

This page was last updated on Thursday, July 28, 2022