College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

UMD Aging Expert Wins Prestigious Ellison Medical Foundation Award

Tue, Jul 12, 2011

Kan Cao

A University of Maryland researcher - Assistant Professor Kan Cao (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) - has won an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award totaling $400,000 over four years. It is considered the most important career award in the field of aging.

"It's clearly a great recognition of both my research program at CBMG and the University.  I feel quite honored to follow in the footsteps of some cool scientists like Titia de Lange," said Cao. Professor de Lange was a EMF Senior Scholar in Aging award recipient in 1999.

The Ellison Medical Foundation said the award is central to its mission of supporting research on aging with a focus on understanding "lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities." The EMF website said: "The New Scholar in Aging Award provides support for newly independent investigators beginning in the first 3 years after their postdoctoral training, when they are establishing their own labs and their careers are at a vulnerable stage. These awards contribute to a safety net that allows bright young scientists to staff their laboratories, collect preliminary data, and organize research programs of sufficient momentum to obtain ongoing support from other sources."

Professor Cao said the award will make a difference: "This New Scholar Award provides me the opportunity to explore new, creative, but risky ideas. The $400,000 award is particularly helpful at a time when federal funds are quite difficult to obtain." Cao's lab studies a rare premature aging disease called progeria, and uses it as a model to understand the normal human aging process.