Thorson Receives MERIT Award

Jul 11, 2012

Jon Thorson, Director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation (CPRI), has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT Award. According to the NIH, a MERIT Award is “provided to support the principal scientific endeavor of an investigator who has demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity.”

As part of the award, Thorson’s original R01 NIH grant has been converted into a prestigious R37 grant, meaning the grant funding has the potential to extend the typical 2-5-year funding cycle to up to 10-years. He was nominated for the award by the Director and Staff of the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“This MERIT Award is wonderful recognition for the hard work and innovation of many scientists in my lab over the past 10 years,” said Thorson. “I applaud them for all they have done to make this possible and look forward to the new discoveries this award will enable.”

Thorson received the MERIT Award for his investigation into the impact of glycosylation (adding sugars) upon drug discovery. The use of glycosylation in drug discovery has been hampered by the technical difficulties associated with the chemistry of attaching sugars to drug and/or natural product scaffolds. Thorson’s research focuses upon simplifying this chemistry through the engineering and evolution of enzymes capable of attaching a wide range of diverse sugars to a wide range of diverse drug and natural product scaffolds. This discovery by the Thorson Lab has enabled the use of glycosylation as a new tool in medicinal chemistry.

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