McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Affiliated Faculty Member Receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Adam Feinberg, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and was recently awarded a 5-year, $2.25 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award to continue developing new biomaterials and cardiac tissue engineering strategies to help repair the human heart following injury and disease.
“I am extremely excited about this award because it will allow me to continue pursuing leading edge research designed to help regenerate and repair heart muscle and improve wound healing in a variety of biomedical arenas,” said Dr. Feinberg.
Dr. Feinberg is 1 of 81 researchers nationwide receiving awards from the NIH to pursue visionary science that exhibits the potential to transform scientific fields and speed the conversion of lab research into improved health, under the High Risk-High Reward program supported through the NIH Common Fund.
“This is recognition of Professor Feinberg’s outstanding research vision and we applaud his drive to continue pushing the research envelope when it comes to improving the biomaterials and processes so critical to advancing biomedical engineering at CMU,” said Vijaykumar Bhagavatula, PhD, interim dean of CMU’s College of Engineering.
According to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, the Common Fund High Risk-High Reward program provides opportunities for innovative investigators in any area of health research to take risks when the potential impact in biomedical and behavioral science is high. Dr. Feinberg is the first researcher at CMU to receive the prestigious New Innovator Award since it was introduced in 2007.
Dr. Feinberg’s lab is focused on the engineering of protein scaffolds that can dynamically guide tissue repair and regeneration.
“To do this, we are studying multi-cellular tissue assembly in embryonic development and wound healing in order to develop biomimetic engineering design principles,” Dr. Feinberg said. “We will be ultimately applying this basic research to model how cells interact with the extracellular matrix in multiple tissue types including cornea and cardiac muscle. Future medical applications include improved drug discovery and screening platforms, novel tools for biological investigation and engineered tissue grafts for disease and trauma repair.”
Dr. Feinberg received his bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University in 1999 with co-operative experience at Abiomed, Inc., where he worked on artificial hearts. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2004 from the University of Florida. Before joining CMU in 2010, Dr. Feinberg did his postdoctoral training at Harvard University where he developed new biomaterials and cardiac engineering strategies.
The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award addresses two important goals: stimulating highly innovative research and supporting promising new investigators. Many new investigators have exceptionally innovative research ideas, but not the preliminary data required to fare well in the traditional NIH peer review system. As part of NIH’s commitment to increasing opportunities for new scientists, it has created the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award to support exceptionally creative new investigators who propose highly innovative projects that have the potential for unusually high impact. This award complements ongoing efforts by NIH and its institutes and centers to fund new investigators through R01 grants and other mechanisms.
The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award program is different from traditional NIH grants in several ways. It is designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career when they may lack the preliminary data required for an R01 grant. The emphasis is on innovation and creativity; preliminary data are not required, but may be included. No detailed, annual budget is requested in the application. The procedure for evaluating applicants’ qualifications is distinct from the traditional NIH peer review “study section” process and will emphasize the individual’s creativity, the innovativeness of the research approaches, and the potential of the project, if successful, to have a significant impact on an important biomedical or behavioral research problem.