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Scripps Florida Scientist Wins Prestigious NIH New Innovator Award

JUPITER, FL – September 30, 2013 – A scientist on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute has won a prestigious New Innovator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The recipient is Scott Hansen, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics.

The award, which was announced today by the NIH, provides Hansen with $2.8 million in research funding over the next five years.

Hansen is one of only 41 scientists selected nationally for the 2013 award.

"NIH is excited to continue support of visionary investigators, among all career stages, pursuing science with the potential to transform scientific fields and accelerate the translation of scientific research into improved health, through the Common Fund’s High Risk-High Reward Research Program,’’ said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. ``This program allows researchers to propose highly creative research projects across a broad range of biomedical research areas, that involve inherent risk, but have the potential for high-rewards."

Hansen will use the award to study mechanosensation, a process that transforms external stimuli into neural impulses, focusing on two of the five major senses—touch and hearing. Surprisingly, our sense of touch lacks a complete explanation, particularly on the molecular level. How do molecules in a cell actually sense touch and how do they communicate that sensation to the brain?

“This award will open a lot of doors because we can now focus all our research efforts on the science,” Hansen said. “We’ve had some success with certain critical aspects of mechanosensation, and the award will help us take a long-term look at what is really an important and intriguing scientific mystery.”

Hansen plans to spend the next five years exploring those issues—with a secondary goal of looking for potential targets for therapeutic intervention in pain and hearing loss.

The number of the grant is 1DP2NS087943-01.


About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 2,700 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see

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