06/30/2008 07:00:00

Protein Expert Joins Inaugural Class of Science Fellows:Caltech Vice Provost recognized with new Department of Defense award

PASADENA, Calif.--The Department of Defense (DoD) named California Institute of Technology Vice Provost Stephen Mayo one of six university faculty scientists and engineers in the inaugural class of National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (NSSEFF). Up to $3 million of direct research support will be given to each NSSEFF fellow for up to five years. The grants are intended to engage the next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers in the most challenging technical issues facing the DoD.

Mayo, the Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Caltech, is an expert in the field of protein design. The DoD funding will support his work in developing and testing computer algorithms for designing proteins. For the NSSEFF program, he is focused on developing novel proteins, including engineered antibodies and antibody-like molecules, that could be useful in preventing and treating viral diseases, such as those caused by avian flu, smallpox, and dengue.

"I'm excited to get this support to further my research," says Mayo. "All six projects chosen by the Defense Department are in extremely diverse disciplines, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

William Rees, deputy undersecretary of defense for laboratories and basic sciences, says the fellows conduct basic research in core science and engineering disciplines that underpin future DoD technology development. In addition to this unclassified research, Rees noted another important benefit of the NSSEFF:

"The program provides opportunities for fellows to participate fully in the DoD research enterprise and share their knowledge and insight with DoD military and civilian leaders, researchers in DoD laboratories, and the national security science and engineering community."

Nearly 150 academic institutions submitted more than 500 nomination letters for the fellowships. Twenty semifinalists were invited to submit full proposals outlining their research plans. Each of the semifinalists participated in a scientific interview before a distinguished panel of experts. The DoD may announce additional winners of this year's NSSEFF awards at a later date.

Upon successful completion of negotiations between the fellows' academic institutions and DoD research offices, grant awards will be made to the their' home institutions for support of their research.

Written by Jacqueline Scahill