Alexander Travis, VMD, Ph.D., an associate professor of reproductive biology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, recently received the Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health. He is the first veterinarian to receive the award, according to Cornell.
The award, which was handed out to 17 other individuals, is an aspect of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, a high-risk research initiative of Research Teams of the Future. As outlined by the NIH, the term “pioneering” is used to describe highly innovative approaches that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact on a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research, and the term “award” is used to mean a grant for conducting research, rather than a reward for past achievements.
Dr. Travis’ research investigates the design and function of mammalian sperm, particularly the organization of their energy-producing pathways. With his five-year, $2.5 million grant, Travis plans to harness this design to develop very small energy sources for implantable medical devices that could carry out a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic functions, according to the NIH.
“We’re borrowing the sperm’s strategy for locomotion,” Travis said.
The idea was conceived after he noted that many proteins on sperm tails are tied down to solid structures within the cell but still function.