St. Jude researcher named Howard Hughes Early Career Scientist

    Memphis, Tennessee, March 26, 2009

    Michael A. Dyer, PhD

    Michael Dyer, a faculty member at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has been tapped as one of the nation’s leading scientists by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

    Michael Dyer, PhD, of the Department of Developmental Neurobiology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Early Career Scientist.

    Dyer is one of 50 scientists nationwide selected for the 2009 HHMI Early Career Scientist program, a competition recognizing outstanding scientists who have demonstrated originality and productivity during the earliest stage of their career and show exceptional promise for future research contributions. More than 2,000 individuals applied for early career scientist appointments.

    The program, which was launched last year, provides investigators with six-year, nonrenewable appointments to HHMI and substantial financial support to advance their research in creative, new directions. HHMI will invest $200 million in this first group of scientists.

    “The HHMI award is a reflection of the outstanding resources and ideal research environment at St. Jude, where young investigators can work across disciplines with world-class scientists and clinicians to overcome some of the biggest challenges to curing childhood cancer today,” Dyer said.

    Dyer joined the St. Jude faculty in 2002 and quickly emerged as a leader in the study of retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye that attacks the retina and is the third most common form of cancer in infants. His research has made significant and innovative contributions to the fields of developmental neurobiology, cell cycle regulation, stem cell biology, developmental therapeutics and cancer genetics.

    Dyer has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2008 Cogan Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, a Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, as well as that organization’s Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award. He was also selected as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences from 2004 to 2008. Dyer received his doctoral degree in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard University and completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. In addition to his St. Jude post, he holds a position in the Department of Ophthalmology in the Hamilton Eye Institute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

    “Dr. Dyer is one of our rising stars, and his selection for funding by HHMI is well-earned recognition,” said Dr. William Evans, St. Jude director and CEO. “Importantly, this new funding will allow him to accelerate his research to identify novel targets that will lead to more effective treatments for childhood cancers.”

    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization.