Xiaorong Lin, assistant professor of biology at Texas A&M University, has been selected as a 2013 Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF).

Lin is among 10 scientists -- three in Texas -- chosen nationwide for the prestigious five-year, $500,000 award established in 2002 and intended to support accomplished early career researchers conducting innovative research in pathogenesis. The award, believed to be only the second BWF-related prize among faculty at Texas A&M (Stephen H. Safe, distinguished professor of veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, 1989 Burroughs Wellcome Toxicology Scholar), is intended to give recipients the freedom and flexibility to pursue new avenues of inquiry and higher-risk research projects that hold potential for significantly advancing the biochemical, pharmacological, immunological and molecular biological understanding of how microbes and the human body interact.

"Research to understand the critical interactions of hosts and pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes is difficult and risky -- you have to get at least two organisms' systems under control," said BWF President Dr. John Burris. "We are pleased to provide funding to creative researchers to gain critical insight and data."

A member of the Texas A&M Department of Biology since 2008, Lin's research focuses on the interplay between human and microbial biology, shedding light on how human and microbial systems are affected by their encounters. Among her organisms of expertise is Cryptococcus neoformans, the major causative agent of fungal meningitis -- specifically, cryptococcal meningitis, which claims more than half a million lives worldwide each year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Lin earned her doctorate from the University of Georgia in 2003 and is considered a rising star within the department. Her track record of research funding includes active grants from the American Heart Association, the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program and the National Institutes of Health, and she has numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, two book chapters and various teaching awards to her credit thus far in her promising career.

"While typical scientific grants to professors are funded to achieve specific research goals, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Award is given on the promise that any scientist as talented, accomplished and inquisitive as Dr. Xiaorong Lin will make important discoveries if she has funding to investigate whatever piques her curiosity," said Thomas McKnight, professor of biology and interim head of the Department of Biology. "Work in her laboratory has already yielded valuable new insights into and potential treatments for fungal diseases. This award recognizes those accomplishments and ensures that her creative research will continue. I am thrilled that the selection committee was able to see what her colleagues already knew -- that Dr. Lin is a true asset to Texas A&M University and to her large and medically important field."

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and dedicated to advancing the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities.

For more information on Lin and her research, visit http://www.bio.tamu.edu/FACMENU/FACULTY/LinX.htm.

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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Xiaorong Lin, (979) 845-7274 or xlin@bio.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

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