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U of L neuroscientist receives most-promising researcher award

June 28th, 2005

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Robin Krimm.

A University of Louisville neuroscientist has received a 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, marking her as one of the country’s most-promising researchers in her field.

Robin Krimm, assistant professor of anatomical sciences and neurobiology, was one of only 58 scholars to be honored nationwide, and is believed to be the first researcher in Kentucky to be named for the honor. She received her award June 13 at the White House.

Krimm, nominated for the award by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is conducting fundamental research on neurotrophic factors, a family of proteins critical for the development and survival of neurons, or nerve cells, and their role in the development of the taste system.

It is easier to track neurotrophic factors in the taste system because “we know where the taste system will develop,” she said. She and her team can tell if the correct number of neurotrophic factors get to the right place, and what they do once there.

The NIH funded Krimm’s work, she said, because it understands that most clinical application research comes from fundamental research. Fundamental research lays the groundwork for further investigation.

Understanding how neurotrophic factors work and develop could help scientists learn how to restore nerve function lost from injury or disease.

Krimm said she thinks the NIH nominated her for the prestigious award because her study identifies concrete problems that need to be addressed in the field that had not been addressed and because she had good preliminary data that showed a high probability of success.

The selection also was based on community service. Krimm mentors two promising high school scientists in her lab. One of them, a sophomore at Ballard High School, recently placed third in the state in the Kentucky Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

The recipient of three NIH grants, Krimm joined the faculty of U of L in 2001 after earning a Ph.D. degree at the University of Virginia and completing her postdoctoral training at the University of Kentucky. Her work has appeared several times in the Journal of Neurobiology.

The Presidential Early Career Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The White House receives recommendations for recipients from participating agencies and has conferred the award annually since 1996.

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