Dr. Michael Rudnicki named an international research scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

November 1, 2006

Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Director of the OHRI's Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research, is one of just 39 scientists recently named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar. Dr. Rudnicki will receive a five-year award totaling nearly $US 500,000.

The competitive awards recognize the accomplishments and promise of biomedical researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela. They also help build the research capacity of countries that have a strong tradition of science but insufficient resources to adequately support world-class research, by supporting scientific leaders and strengthening their research institutions.

"This is the 15th anniversary of HHMI's international program, which began in 1991 with awards to outstanding scientists in our closest neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada," said Thomas R. Cech, president of the Institute. "The program has grown five-fold and now supports outstanding researchers in 28 countries, including Canada and five Latin American nations. The research these scientists are doing compares favorably to the research conducted by accomplished investigators in the United States."

The new HHMI international research scholars were chosen from 546 applicants from eight countries. Twenty-one of those selected have received previous international research scholar awards from the Institute.

"These scientists are recognized pacesetters in their fields," noted Peter J. Bruns, HHMI vice president for grants and special programs.

Dr. Michael Rudnicki's HHMI Research Summary

The stem cells of adult skeletal muscle, known as satellite cells, normally lie quietly, awaiting their instructions. But once called to action, they quickly respond to stress or injury, forming muscle precursor cells that help regenerate damaged tissue.

Michael Rudnicki is interested in the molecular mechanisms that regulate these stem cells during embryonic development and tissue regeneration. An HHMI international research scholar since 2002, Rudnicki has conducted extensive studies into embryonic muscle development and the function of stem cells in adult skeletal muscle. His laboratory identified a protein produced by the gene Pax7 as the one responsible for copying DNA information to help define the outcome of satellite cells.

Rudnicki now believes that PAX7 molecularly enforces these outcomes by chemically marking the sites of later gene expression in muscle tissue. By studying PAX7's behavior in muscle cell precursors in mice, he hopes to further tease out the molecular functions of this gene.

Related Links:
HHMI 2006 International Research Scholar Announcement
The Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research
Dr. Michael Rudnicki's scientific profile