Overview of the STAR Award
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 2022, two investigators received NIAMS STAR supplements.
Yvonne C. Lee, M.D., is the Helen Myers McLoraine Professor of rheumatology and an associate professor of medicine (rheumatology) and preventive medicine (epidemiology) at Northwestern University. Dr. Lee is the principal investigator of an NIAMS-supported research project studying how rheumatoid arthritis leads to changes in central nervous system pathways responsible for sensing, transmitting, and regulating pain. The STAR award will enable her team to incorporate novel brain imaging methods into a multimodal approach that also includes patient-reported measures of pain and objective assessments of pain sensitivity to study pain pathways. They will focus on patients recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis because the first 1-3 years seems to be a critical time during which the acute to chronic pain transition occurs. The findings from this research could be used to develop efficacious strategies to treat chronic pain, such as non-opioid-based analgesic drugs and personalized therapeutics, in individuals with arthritis.
Danelle N. Devenport, Ph.D., is an associate professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. She leads an NIAMS-funded research project to better understand the collective polarization and alignment of cells across a tissue—a phenomenon known as planar cell polarity (PCP). PCP is conspicuously lacking when organs are grown in a dish yet is essential for proper organ formation and function. Her team has established the murine skin as a model system to investigate the multiscale coordination of PCP in an expansive and regenerative tissue. The STAR award will enable them to decipher the molecular mechanisms that establish PCP in the skin epidermis—the most superficial layer of the skin—which protects the body from infection and from harmful substances. This knowledge may explain the molecular interactions that ultimately build organism-scale tissue organization in the skin epidermis, bringing researchers closer to developing fully functional organs in the lab.
To view profiles for the 2020 STAR awardees, visit the 2020 announcement for the STAR program.
To view profiles for the 2021 STAR awardees, visit the 2021 announcement for the STAR program.
For more information about the NIAMS STAR program, including the funding opportunity announcement and profiles of past award recipients, visit the Supplements to Advance Research (STAR) page on the NIAMS website.