October 05, 2019
1 min read

The Wistar Institute researcher receives NIH New Innovator Award

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Zachary Shug, PhD
Zachary T. Schug

The NIH presented its New Innovator Award to Zachary T. Schug, PhD, assistant professor in the molecular and cellular oncogenesis program at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.

The $2,679,000 grant, given over 5 years, will support Schug’s research on the molecular mechanisms underlying the association between cancer and a diet high in sugar and fat, and alcohol use.

Acetate — which is critical for certain metabolic function s , such as energy production and lipid synthesis — is produced in high amounts in diets that are high in sugar and alcohol . Schug plans to evaluate and how diet and alcohol consumption influence acetate metabolism and impact gene expression in cancer. His studies also will involve the microbiota, which are major producers of acetate.

“Zachary’s research has the ambitious goal of unraveling the diet-induced metabolic and epigenetic changes that underlie tumor growth and progression, and may have important clinical implications,” Dario C. Altieri, MD, Wistar’s president and CEO, director of the Wistar Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox distinguished professor, said in a press release. “Because of its high impact, this work embodies the type of research the NIH plans to support with this award.”

NIH Director’s Awards for High-Risk, High-Reward Research support innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research. In 2019, these awards provided approximately $263 million to be distributed over 5 years. The New Innovator Award specifically focuses on supporting dynamic and talented early-career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree.

“Each year, I look forward to seeing the creative approaches these researchers take to solve tough problems in biomedical and behavioral research,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, said in the release. “I am confident the 2019 cohort of awardees has the potential to advance our mission of enhancing health through their groundbreaking studies.”

Photo credit: The Wistar Institute