UT Tyler School of Medicine Junior Researcher Awarded $1.8 Million NIH Grant

R35 MIRA grant is the first of its kind for UT Tyler


TYLER, Texas (August 30, 2023) – Dr. Maolin Lu, assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology at The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine, was awarded an R35 MIRA grant for $1.8 million by the National Institutes of Health. This is the first R35 grant that UT Tyler has received. The R35 MIRA grant, or the “Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award”, is given to promising young investigators to provide them with a stable funding environment for ambitious, innovative research. The MIRA award is intended to support research in an investigator’s laboratory that falls within the mission of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The goal is to support basic research that lays the groundwork for disease prevention and treatment.

“I am immensely proud of Dr. Maolin Lu for achieving this remarkable milestone both for herself and the institution,” said Dr. Brigham C. Willis, founding dean of the UT Tyler School of Medicine. “This is an incredibly competitive grant, and the fact that she was awarded it so early in her career with UT Tyler is a testament to her talent and dedication.”

Lu’s research interests include understanding virus-host interactions for viruses such as HIV, SARSCoV-2 and RSV. The proposed program of research in this R35 award focuses on better understanding the entry mechanism of respiratory viral pathogens (SARS-CoV-2, RSV and future emerging viral pathogens), a process that is a prerequisite for a virus to enter host cells.

“This a wonderful and historic accomplishment for Dr. Maolin Lu,” said Dr. Torry A. Tucker, associate dean for research at the UT Tyler School of Medicine. “Dr. Lu is our first recipient of the R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award funding mechanism. This award provides funding to ‘highly talented’ young investigators to pursue cutting edge ambitious research projects. Her success also paves the way for other young investigators to pursue new funding opportunities.”

Lu has received several grants over the past year for her research: a $175,000 collaborative development award from the Duke Center for HIV Structural Biology, a $370,700 R56 grant from the National Institutes of Health, and $130,000 from the Gilead Science Research Scholars Program.

“I’ve received support from lots of scientists and their laboratories,” said Lu. “To receive these types of grants, it’s imperative to have a strong supporting system and a spirit of collaboration, and I’m thankful that, through the School of Medicine and other researchers, I’ve had both.”

Lu obtained her Bachelor of Science in biological engineering and her Master of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Xi’an Jiaotong University. She then received her PhD in photochemical sciences at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. After her graduation, she joined the Walther Mothes Laboratory at Yale University School of Medicine in 2015 before becoming a UT Tyler faculty member in 2021.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R35GM151169. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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