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PHOTO BY MEGAN E. DOHERTY

BY STEPHEN PHILLIPS

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un Ji Chung, PhD, had a vision—a nanoparticle delivered intravenously that would detect atherosclerosis, the potentially deadly build-up of plaque in arteries, administer therapy and signal whether the treatment has succeeded. The young biomedical engineer is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Matthew Tirrell, PhD, dean and founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. In 2013, she applied for a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to develop the so-called “theranostic” nanodevice. The five-year, $900,000 grant provides for two years of mentored research followed by three years of self-directed work. Chung’s project to open a new front in preventing and treating heart disease would launch her career as an independent investigator. uchospitals.edu/midway

But, like roughly 78 percent of applicants for these awards across NIH agencies that year, Chung missed the cut. Undeterred, she enrolled in the new Career (K) Award Writing Workshop offered by UChicago’s Institute for Translational Medicine. For three months, Chung and three other postdoctoral researchers turned down for funding were put through their paces for 90 minutes a week by neuroscientist Harriet de Wit, PhD, and physician-scientist Steven White, MD. Between them, the faculty members count decades of experience winning federal awards. White had also just completed a stint chairing the NHLBI study section overseeing the grant Chung sought. “Eun Ji is a superb young scientist,” he said. “There’s little I can tell her about her area of science she doesn’t know.” What the faculty members could offer were insights into how to craft a compelling proposal: cueing the

A proposal writing workshop led by experienced faculty members helped postdoctoral fellow Eun Ji Chung, PhD, win an NIH career development award after being turned down the first time around. Chung is shown outside the William Eckhardt Research Center, which opened this fall. The building houses the Institute for Molecular Engineering and portions of the Physical Sciences Division.

MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

FALL 2015

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Medicine on the Midway - Fall 2015  

Medicine on the Midway is published for friends, alumni and faculty of the University of Chicago Medicine, the University of Chicago Divisio...

Medicine on the Midway - Fall 2015  

Medicine on the Midway is published for friends, alumni and faculty of the University of Chicago Medicine, the University of Chicago Divisio...