The National Institutes of Health know a good investment when they see one, and they definitely see one in Joe Lachance, researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology. And to prove it, the NIH recently granted Lachance an R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA).
The grant, valued at $1.88 million over five years, will support Lachance’s research strategy, which includes the analysis of ancient and modern genomes, mathematical modeling, and the development of new bioinformatics tools.
Lachance, whose research bridges the gap between evolutionary genetics and genetic epidemiology, is motivated by several questions: How have hereditary disease risks evolved in the recent past? What sorts of genetic architectures are more likely to result in health inequities? How can genomic medicine be extended to people with different ancestries?
“We’ve taken an evolutionary perspective toward genetic medicine and global health,” says Lachance, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, whose research is directly related to the NIH’s All of Us initiative.
The R35 MIRA program was designed to increase the stability of funding for NIGMS-supported investigators like Lachance, improving their ability to take on ambitious projects and take more creative approaches to biomedical problems.
“This grant, I think, demonstrates great confidence in our approach to the research,” Lachance said. “It enables us to devote more our time and energy on doing the actual science and developing the next generation of researchers.”