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 2020, two investigators received NIAMS STAR supplements. Previously, NIAMS funded three STAR awards in 2015, four in 2016, four in 2017, five in 2018, and two in 2019. An announcement to reissue the NIAMS STAR program for 2019 and beyond was published on September 7, 2018.

Jiang Chen

Jiang Chen, M.D., is an associate professor of pathology and dermatology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He leads an NIAMS-supported research project to understand how genes called cilia-planar polarity effectors (CPLANEs) control skin development and skin cancer formation. Dr. Chen’s team demonstrated that the CPLANEs facilitate building of the cell's “antenna” (primary cilia) by trafficking the intracellular proteins involved in the process. The finding provides insight into the molecular basis of hair follicle formation, basal cell carcinoma, and genetic conditions in which cilia are defective. The STAR award funding will support his team’s effort to expand the essential knowledge of how intracellular trafficking contributes to skin biology and disease development.

Sarah Ross

Sarah E. Ross, Ph.D., is an associate professor of neurobiology and anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh. She leads an NIAMS-funded research project to better understand the underlying neural circuits and pathways of persistent itch. Previous findings suggested that chemicals that bind to kappa opioid receptor (KOR) and activate it might be a potential treatment for persistent itch. The STAR award will enable Dr. Ross’s team to employ novel imaging technology to visualize how neural circuits involving KOR in the spinal dorsal horn integrate itch input and convey this information to the brain. This knowledge will ultimately support the development of safe and effective interventions for itch.


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.

To view profiles for the 2019 STAR awardees, visit the 2019 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.