April 22, 2008 | Martin Hauer-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery and pathology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has received one of the highest awards presented by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) — the MERIT Award.
As the first NCI MERIT Award recipient in Arkansas’ history, Hauer-Jensen’s radiation-related research conducted at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is guaranteed funding for up to 10 years. The focus of his research involves the investigation of how specific interactions among the nervous system, immune system and coagulation system influence the development of acute and chronic intestinal radiation injury.
“The radiation research program at NCI has only one other MERIT Award nationwide, so it is quite an honor to be selected,” said Hauer-Jensen, professor of surgery and pathology at UAMS. MERIT stands for Method to Extend Research in Time.
Fewer than 3 percent of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are MERIT Award recipients. NIH is the umbrella organization of the NCI.
Those who receive MERIT Awards have previously submitted highly successful NIH grant applications as well as demonstrated an exceptionally strong record in research likely to impact human health.
In addition to studying ways in which radiation treatment can be made more tolerable, safe and effective, Hauer-Jensen is internationally recognized as an expert in the possible effects of a radiation bioterrorism attack or radiation accident.
With four grants to investigate various aspects of radiation terrorism, he also serves as an external advisor to the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., and is a member of a national working group charged with developing a nationwide medical response plan for radiological and nuclear terrorism.
At the international level, Hauer-Jensen is on a five-member task group of the International Commission for Radiation Protection focused on radiation-induced tissue injury.