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NIH and Lasker Foundation announce first Clinical Research Scholar

University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Nehal N. Mehta joins NIH as part of unique partnership

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2012

Head shot of a young man in a lab coat
Nehal N. Mehta, M.D., has been named the inaugural Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, through a joint initiative of The National Institutes of Health and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. Mehta, who was an instructor of cardiovascular medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has joined the intramural program in the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Through the competitive Lasker Clinical Research Scholar program, NIH and Lasker Foundation seek to nurture the next generation of great clinical scientists. The program will select talented early-stage researchers and provide them the opportunity to carry out independent clinical and translational research for five to seven years at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. Scholars will have access to NIH resources including the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world devoted to clinical research. 

“NIH is excited to welcome Dr. Mehta to our campus as the first recipient of this historic intramural-extramural partnership with the Lasker Foundation,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Dr. Mehta is an exceptional early-career scientist who will be a tremendous addition to the NIH Intramural Research Program.”

The Lasker Foundation will provide additional developmental support to Mehta and future scholars while they are working at NIH by funding travel to scientific meetings and providing them with the opportunity to participate in selected foundation activities, including the Lasker Award ceremonies.

“This scholarship, the first of its kind, will help break down the barriers to success facing talented young clinical scientists, such as access to clinical facilities or patient enrollments,” said Lasker Foundation President Maria Freire, Ph.D. “The Lasker Foundation looks forward to working with NIH to promote the scientific growth of Dr. Mehta, as well as future recipients of this scholarship, as they transition to fully independent investigators.”

Mehta will head a new Laboratory of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases within the NHLBI’s Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch. Through his work, Mehta will aim to better understand how inflammation influences insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Dr. Mehta join our team,” said Andrew Arai, M.D., chief of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch. “His research and clinical expertise will fit perfectly in our environment in which basic scientists and clinicians work together to find new diagnostics, therapeutics, and interventions for cardiovascular and pulmonary health.”

“I am truly honored to be selected as the inaugural Lasker Clinical Research Scholar,” said Mehta. “This unique position will both support my clinical activities and allow me to develop a multidisciplinary translational research team.  I am excited about the opportunities to interact with the Lasker Foundation and the NIH Intramural Research Program.”

After completing their initial tenure, Mehta and subsequent Lasker clinical research scholars will have the opportunity to remain at NIH as tenured investigators or join the faculty of an extramural research institution, where they can receive up to five years more of NIH financial support.    

For additional information or to schedule an interview with Dr. Mehta, please contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236 or The Lasker Foundation is also available for comment at 212-843-8590 or (Charles V. Zehren) and 212-843-8029, (Alison Hendrie).

The Lasker Clinical Research Scholar program honors the contributions of Mary and Albert Lasker to the NIH and to the overall biomedical community.

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