June 9-22, 2000
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Dr. Michael O. Thorner
Dr. Michael O. Thorner

Growth researcher awarded $500,000 grant

By Suzanne Morris

The U.Va. Health System has received a five-year, $500,000 Unrestricted Metabolic Research Grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The grant will be supervised by Dr. Michael O. Thorner, chair of the internal medicine department at the University, a nationally recognized researcher on growth hormone regulation.

Thorner's research focuses on two different aspects of growth hormone regulation. First, he has a major interest in helping to define and understand the mechanism by which growth hormone declines with age. Secondly, his studies explore the possibilities of enhancing growth hormone secretion in the elderly.

The metabolic grant program through which unrestricted grants are given by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation offers the world's premier metabolic research institutions the opportunity to pursue new laboratory findings, support promising young scientists or acquire new laboratory technology.

"This grant will allow us to leverage our research in a unique way," Thorner explained. "We will be able to pursue more innovative and speculative projects. The traditional granting mechanisms require preliminary data and proof of concept before funds are approved and released. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity which we will use judiciously and effectively."

The Bristol-Myers Squibb grants programs also gives an annual award for distinguished achievement to an individual researcher. As the supervisor of an unrestricted metabolic research grant, Thorner becomes a member of an independent selection committee that will select the winner of the annual $50,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Metabolic Research.

"Dr. Thorner is a leading investigator of the molecular mechanisms involved in the control of the secretion of growth hormones," said Dr. Richard Gregg, vice president for metabolic and cardiovascular drug discovery at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. "He is doing exciting work in understanding alterations in growth hormone secretion with aging, the neuropeptides and receptors involved in the regulation of growth hormone secretion and the modulation of this secretory pathway."


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