An Investment in Promise

One day in late March while meeting with several colleagues, James Moseley, PhD, saw an e-mail notification from the Pew Charitable Trusts pop up on the screen of his laptop. "I couldn't resist opening it," admits Moseley, an assistant professor of biochemistry at DMS.

Focus article photo

Cell biologist James Moseley, PhD (Photo by Mark Washburn)

Few in his shoes would have been able to contain their curiosity. Several months earlier, Moseley—a cell biologist—had been chosen as Dartmouth's sole nominee for the prestigious 2011 Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Would this be the answer he had been hoping for, he wondered?

"I saw the first word—'Congratulations!'—and I was over-the-moon excited," says Moseley about the moment when he learned that he'd been selected as a Pew Scholar.

For a promising early-career scientist like Moseley, the endorsement that comes with this award is as significant as the funding it provides. "The Pew's scientific review board is made up of a very impressive list of scientists, so the fact that they consider my ideas worthwhile is a tremendous honor," says Moseley.

Each year, a select group of institutions, including Dartmouth, is invited to put forward just one young investigator each for the highly competitive award, which provides $240,000 in funding over four years. Past Pew Scholars are an elite community of scientists that includes three Nobel Prize winners, three MacArthur Fellows, and two recipients of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.

Career development

"The Pew Scholars Program selects the brightest young researchers in biomedical sciences for their support," says Duane Compton, PhD, DMS's senior associate dean for research. "Jamie is one of several top-notch young researchers who have come to Dartmouth in the past year, and we have a strong reputation for nurturing their career development. He has an outstanding track record of accomplishment, and this prestigious award will provide important recognition and support for him to succeed in these very competitive times."

Moseley came to DMS last summer from the lab of Nobel laureate Paul Nurse at Rockefeller University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. It was there that he began the work he is now pursuing in his own lab—probing the mechanisms by which cells measure their size and shape and use that information to control the cell cycle. This area of inquiry is important to understanding the misregulated and uncontrolled cell growth that occurs in many types of cancer.

"It's that kind of promise that the Pew Scholars Program invests in," says the chair of biochemistry.

"One of Jamie's strengths is his ability to distill very complex questions down into testable models," says Charles Barlowe, PhD, chair of biochemistry. "Already, he's published 20 papers in some of the field's most prestigious journals. It's that kind of promise that the Pew Scholars Program invests in. I think we can look forward to a bright future and to exciting discoveries from him here at Dartmouth."

Moseley eagerly anticipates the chance to pursue his best ideas—a freedom that comes along with the Pew Scholars award. "Pew wants us to think openly and think big," says Moseley. It's evident he is ready to do just that.

By Kate Villars

This article is reprinted from the Summer 2011 issue of Dartmouth Medicine.

June 14, 2011