Overview of the STAR Awards:

The NIAMS STAR program provides supplemental funding for early-career stage investigators who have renewed their first NIAMS-funded R01 grant. The supplement enables these scientists to pursue innovative and high-risk research within the broader scope of a current NIAMS-funded, peer-reviewed research project. It also helps investigators to expand a single, structured research project into a broader multi-faceted research program. In FY 2019, two investigators received NIAMS STAR supplements. Previously, NIAMS funded three STAR awards in 2015four in 2016, four in 2017, and five in 2018. An announcement to reissue the NIAMS STAR program for 2019 and beyond was published on September 7, 2018.

Andrew Judge

Andrew Judge, Ph.D., is a professor of physical therapy at the University of Florida. Dr. Judge is the principal investigator of an NIAMS-funded research grant that aims to clarify the underlying mechanism of cancer-associated muscle wasting and weakness in response to tumor burden. The team identified Trim63 (MuRF1) as one of the genes that commonly changed in pancreatic cancer patients affected by muscle wasting and nine pre-clinical models of the condition. The STAR award will allow for detailed studies of this gene to establish its role in cancer-induced muscle and fat wasting and metabolism, tumor growth and metabolism, and survival.

Paul B. Yu

Paul B. Yu, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the principal investigator of an NIAMS research project that seeks to develop tools and technologies for better understanding and potential treatment of heterotopic ossification (HO)—the formation  of bone in tissues outside the skeleton, including muscle, tendons, and other soft tissues. Dr. Yu’s team will identify molecular probes that can selectively modulate the bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling pathways, which are critical for maintaining normal muscle, tendon, ligament and skeletal tissues, as well as inappropriate (heterotopic) bone and cartilage formation. The STAR award funding will allow his group to use an innovative and powerful strategy to generate a panel of reagents that will identify how naturally occurring BMP and related signaling molecules achieve their specific functions. This set of tools can be used to advance knowledge about normal musculoskeletal development, as well as pathological HO formation and potentially other therapeutic applications.

To view profiles for the 2015 STAR awardees, visit the 2015 announcement for the STAR program.

To view profiles for the 2016 STAR awardees, visit the 2016 announcement for the STAR program.

To view profiles for the 2017 STAR awardees, visit the 2017 announcement for the STAR program.

To view profiles for the 2018 STAR awardees, visit the 2018 announcement for the STAR program.

For more information, please see the STAR funding opportunity announcement and the December 2014 letter from the NIAMS Director announcing the program.