Basic Sciences' McLaughlin wins Whitney fellowship

Malik Lab researcher studies the role of genetic evolution in autoimmune disorders
The Malik Lab's Dr. Rick McLaughlin is one of 22 researchers selected for the three-year award from a nationwide search. Photo by Dean Forbes

Dr. Rick McLaughlin, a postdoctoral researcher in the Basic Sciences Division's Malik Lab, has been awarded a prestigious Helen Hay Whitney Foundation research fellowship. He is one of 22 researchers selected for the three-year award from a nationwide search.

Bold ideas generate grant from lupus institute, too

The $154,500 grant enables McLaughlin to test whether retroelements' evolution or a breakdown in the surveillance system that controls their proliferation may lead to diseases such as lupus and other autoimmune disorders. McLaughlin's research aims align with his graduate work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center on the evolutionary rationale of protein architecture. Based on the promise of his new work, the Lupus Research Institute also recently awarded a $300,000 novel research grant to McLaughlin and his postdoctoral mentor Dr. Harmit Malik.

"I am sure that Rick's conceptual boldness in his treatment of open biological questions helped his selection," said Malik, an evolutionary geneticist. "He has already demonstrated incredible technical skill to advance our understanding of how proteins evolve. I am excited about his plans to dissect the genetic arms race within our own genomes."

The Whitney Foundation supports the careers of promising young scientists in biomedical research and aims to broaden postdoctoral training and experience.

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