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Northwestern Medical Professor Receives MERIT Award

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May 6, 2008 | by Marla Paul
CHICAGO, Ill.— Jacob I. Sznajder, Ernest S. Bazley Professor in Asthma and Related Disorders, professor of cell and molecular biology and chief of pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, has received a Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The MERIT Award is designed to provide long-term support to investigators with superior records of research competence, productivity and scientific collaboration. It provides a total of $1,957,343 for five years, with a noncompetitive renewal option for another five years.

Sznajder received the award for his research on Na,K-ATPase (sodium potassium ATPase), a fundamental protein that controls cell integrity and ionic exchange in the lung epithelium. He studies the role and regulation of Na,K-ATPase and its contribution to the lung's ability to clear edema.

Sznajder's major clinical interests are acute respiratory distress syndrome, mechanical ventilation, and cardiovascular management of acute respiratory failure. His research focuses on mediators and mechanisms of acute lung injury, mechanisms of lung edema clearance, protein degradation and gene therapy of the lungs.

In addition to the MERIT Award, Sznajder is being honored by the Feinberg dean's office as the first Tripartite Legacy Scholar in Translational Science and Education. The annual honor will recognize a Feinberg faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in research that emphasizes translational approaches, teaching and mentoring, and leadership. Sznajder will receive a medal and a cash award of $15,000 to advance his research team's activities, and he will present the keynote address at the school's annual Lewis Landsberg Research Day.

Sznajder has been at the Feinberg School since 1999 and is also a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Feinberg's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, which he heads, is among the country's leading groups in the field of acute lung injury research.