Dr. Herman receives extraordinary second MERIT award


Noted scientist and researcher Brian Herman, Ph.D., vice president for research, received a second National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT award from the National Institute of Aging (NIA), making him probably the only active vice president for research at any institution to receive the distinguished award twice.

The MERIT award is one of the most prestigious awards presented by the NIH. By receiving a second MERIT award, he represents less than 1 percent of all active NIA members. It will ensure funding for the continuation of Dr. Herman’s research through 2015 without having to compete for funds. MERIT awards enable scientists who have impressive track records of scholarship and productivity to have long-term sustained funding without the time and effort of seeking competitive grant renewal.

“It is a very humbling experience because this is something that is provided to very few individuals, so it’s very rewarding to have this happen twice,” Dr. Herman said.

Dr. Herman studies the process of cell death and focuses on how alterations in the process of cell death are involved in cancer and aging. His contributions to scientists’ understanding of apoptosis, or cell “suicide,” have had major implications in the fields of aging, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

“We’ve provided data to suggest that manipulating cell death can impact aging,” Dr. Herman said. “By understanding how this pathway functions, we may be able to develop interventions that delay the aging process, leading to a better quality of life and longer life.”

Dr. Herman’s research teams and collaborators have made several major discoveries in his career. In addition to the receipt of a second MERIT award, Dr. Herman also is the principal investigator on a Program Project (PO1) grant and ranks in the top 5 percent of all NIH awardees in terms of funding over the past 25 years. Dr. Herman’s total current grant funding is approximately $8.6 million. Over the course of his scientific career, the total amount of funding is approximately $22 million.

Dr. Herman received his Ph.D. in 1980 from the University of Connecticut Medical School and joined the Health Science Center faculty as chair of cellular and structural biology in 1998. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. Dr. Herman was also the inaugural chair of the Health Science Center’s Executive Research Committee and received the 2004 Presidential Distinguished Scholar Award from President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

Congratulations to Dr. Herman on all of his accomplishments.

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