UC Berkeley professor Gregory Barton spends hours studying the immune system and autoimmune diseases, while campus professor Diana Bautista focuses on deciphering the relationship between the nervous and immune systems.
Appointed investigators at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Barton and Bautista will receive financial support for their research, according to a campus press release. The two join campus associate professor David Savage, as three of 33 investigators announced Thursday.
“I feel really lucky, this is something that I had hoped to someday but never imagined it would happen,” Barton said. “It really makes me happy and it’s a recognition of all the amazing people who have worked in my lab. … We have a large number of investigators and that actually amazes me.
Barton acknowledged the importance of the work done by the researchers in his lab and said he immediately emailed them, noting that it was a “prize for each of them.”
Bautista echoed the sentiments and said the award reflects the work of scientists in her lab and everything she has accomplished with her collaborators.
As part of the nomination, researchers will receive funding from the institute over a period of seven years. The money will help fund staff salaries, equipment and hiring, according to Bautista.
Barton added that the support would help reduce the amount of grants he has to write, which is one of the main sources of funds for Barton and his team.
“My goal is to build a creative and diverse group of interns and ask really tough questions in science,” Bautista said. “We will take risks in science and consider adopting high-risk and high-reward approaches and gaining a new physiological understanding of the interaction between these systems.”
To appoint investigators, the institute must determine that the individuals in question are “making connections” between human health and biology and conducting research in new areas, according to David Clapham, vice president and scientific director of the institute. .
Clapham added that funding for investigators comes from returns on investment from the institute’s endowment.
Barton pointed out how UC Berkeley’s high number of scholars reflects the “excellence” of faculty and students on campus. Of the approximately 250 researchers appointed across the country, 22 are university researchers.
With the funding, Barton and Bautista plan to advance their work and support graduate and postdoctoral researchers in their laboratories.
For Barton, the funding will help “get people going.”
“We believe that giving talented scientists the resources to do their best can take us in directions we never anticipated – in some cases, treating and curing diseases in ways that dramatically reduce human suffering,” Clapham said in an email.
Contact Aditya Katewa at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @ adkatewa1.