The University of Arizona Health Sciences Career Development Awards (CDA) program recently selected Darren Cusanovich, PhD, research assistant professor of cellular and molecular medicine, College of Medicine – Tucson, as one of four recipients in its latest round of awards.
Dr. Cusanovich specializes in single-cell genomic technology development and leveraging the new techniques he develops to gain translational insights into the biology of the lung. One of his major projects is a collaborative study with Mohamed Ahmed, MD, PhD, to better understand bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BPD is a disease that primarily affects the lungs of premature neonates (afflicting as many as 30-45% of those born earlier than 30 weeks’ gestational age) and can lead to lifelong deficits in lung function. Dr. Cusanovich proposes to use single-cell genomic technologies to characterize the cellular states of lung aspirates from premature neonates immediately after birth, before any medical interventions, developing for the first time an atlas of baseline cellular states in the lungs of individuals at risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
“Darren is an already accomplished junior scientist who is at the intersection between new genomic technologies and unmet clinical challenges,” said Dr. Cusanovich’s primary mentor, Fernando Martinez, MD, director of the UArizona Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center and professor of pulmonary and sleep medicine. “He is the poster child for what is most needed today: highly trained basic scientists who have the training background and the avocation to truly understand current clinical health and disease challenges and establish collaborative enterprises with human scientists to provide clinically applicable solutions.”
The CDA program was established by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences in 2014 to provide research training and funding for junior faculty members, and foster academic careers in clinical and translational research. Selected scholars are provided with mentorship, research training and salary support, plus funding for travel and research supplies.
The CDA scholars must complete an independent research project, which is expected to generate sufficient pilot findings to enable the submission of an NIH K-series or R01 grant (or equivalent) by the second year of the program. Each scholar also must choose a lead mentor, or mentors if the project is multidisciplinary.
Watch this space in the coming weeks to learn about the other junior faculty members who were selected for this latest round of awards:
- Lindsay Kohler, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of practice in health promotion sciences, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health;
- Salma Patel, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, College of Medicine – Tucson;
- Nahla Zaghloul, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, College of Medicine – Tucson.