Second Searle scholar at Chicago named
Chyung-Ru Wang, Assistant Professor in Pathology, has been named a 1996 Searle scholar. She is one of 15 junior scholars nationwide and one of two from the University so honored by the Searle Scholars Program, administered by the Chicago Community Trust. Wang will receive a total of $180,000 in research funding over the next three years.
Milan Mrksich, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, also was named a Searle scholar, as reported in the April 25 issue of the Chronicle.
Wang studies how the immune system recognizes and mounts an immune response against pathogens that live inside the host's cells. Although antibodies can be very effective in eliminating microbes that reside outside cells, they can't get at bacteria and viruses that live and multiply inside cells. In addition, many intracellular bacteria have acquired resistance to antibiotic drugs.
By learning how the immune system detects and turns against these intracellular invaders, Wang hopes to find ways to stimulate more powerful immune responses, essentially creating vaccines against these pathogens. She has discovered, and determined the crystal structure of, molecules that are crucial for detection of intracellular bacteria and is developing ways to stimulate a cellular immune response to facilitate elimination of these invaders.
Wang received her B.S. from National Taiwan University in 1982 and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1987. Before coming to the University in 1994, she was a postdoctoral associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and then at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The Searle Scholars Program honors young scholars who have conducted innovative research and who have given evidence of having the potential to make significant contributions to biological research over an extended period of time.
The awards are supported through trusts established by the estates of John G. and Frances C. Searle. John Searle was president of G.D. Searle & Co., a research-based pharmaceutical company in Skokie, Ill. The Searles expressed the wish that proceeds from their estates be used to support research in medicine, chemistry and biological science. Since the program began in 1981, nearly $47 million in grants has been awarded.