Researcher is one of nation's top young scientists
Dr. Caryn E. Outten, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Outten is one of 85 researchers around the country to receive the highest honor the U.S. government awards to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The awards were announced this week by President Barack Obama.
“I am thrilled and honored to receive this award,” Outten said. “My research group was grateful to receive funding from the NIH in these tough economic times, and now this award is the icing on the cake. I owe much of the success of my research program here at USC to my hard-working graduate students and supportive colleagues. Scientific research can be a challenging career, but moments like this make it all worth it.”
Ten federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.
Outten was nominated for the award by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. Her research, which is supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, uses green fluorescent protein-based sensors to report on the thiol-disulfide redox state in mitochondria. Outten’s experiments will aid in the development of therapies for treating mitochondrial disease and dysfunction by providing a better understanding of the factors controlling thiol redox status in this organelle.
Mitochondrial thiol-disulfide balance is critical for the proper functioning of the cell, and an imbalance is linked to numerous human diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, alcoholic liver disease and aging.
Outten earned her B.S. from the College of William and Mary and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University from 2001-05 before joining USC’s department of chemistry and biochemistry.
The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach. Winning scientists and engineers have received research grants for up to five years to further their studies in support of critical government missions.
“Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership,” President Obama said. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”