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Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – Tannishtha Reya and Michel Bagnat, scientists at , are recipients of major research awards worth a combined $4 million from the National Institutes of Health.

Reyam an associate professor in pharmacology and cancer biology, is one of 18 researchers selected for Pioneer Awards. The award is worth $2.5 million over five years.

The co-director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Program at Duke, Reya studies chemical signals that control stem cell growth. She also has published research showing how the same signals are also linked to cancer growth and believes this work could lead to new cancer therapies.

Reya will use the funds to focus on the imaging of stem cell growth and cancer formation.

"Not only is this a great honor, but it will allow us to undertake a series of high-impact experiments that may require us to take some risks that we otherwise would not have been able to carry out,” Reya said. “In the long term, understanding the environment in which stem cells live may provide new ways to manipulate their growth for patients who need new blood cells, and new approaches to stopping leukemias."

Bagnat, an assistant professor of cell biology, is one of 55 New Innovator Awards worth $1.5 million over five years.

Bagnat will study fluid secretion of a gene called CFTR, mutations of which are linked to cystic fibrosis.

"The award will give me and my colleagues time and resources to pursue important questions,” he said.