Mar 282005
Authors: Lindsay Reiter

Dr. Karolin Luger, an associate professor of molecular biology and a Monfort professor, recently became the first CSU professor to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Luger's research involving the three-dimensional structure of the nucleosome, the basic building block of the chromatin, helped her be chosen for this honor. Luger's research is cited in most chemistry textbooks.

"This is an incredibly prestigious award given to only 43 individuals out of a national poll," said Hank Gardner, interim vice president of research. "This is a tremendous honor for CSU to have one of our professors recognized."

Luger is excited to begin working with the Hughes Institute.

"It allows me to do more daring projects than what I've done with normal agencies. Normally they expect results sooner. (The Howard Hughes Medical Institute) will give me a larger time frame before they expect results, which is essential to tackle more detailed problems," Luger said.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a decentralized medical institute and will fund Luger's research at CSU in addition to paying her salary and benefits.

Luger is currently studying how the genome is organized in a cell and will continue this research as a Hughes Investigator.

"We've only scratched the surface," Luger said.

Paul Laybourn, an associate professor and the associate chair of the biochemistry department, described Luger as a great colleague.

"She is a world class researcher who has made a huge contribution to the field," Laybourn said. "With her level of stardom she could easily get away with sitting around and not doing much, but she doesn't let it get to her head."

She is excited about this acknowledgment, but wants to focus on her research.

"I want to keep up the good work. The recognition is great, but I am a scientist and I want to find out how things work. This has given me a big vote of confidence, though," Luger said.

Luger recognizes the fact that she did not do this alone.

"I have a really good work environment. The people I work with deserve all the credit," Luger said.

In addition to her research, Luger also teaches a freshman introductory genetics class.

Luger's achievement will benefit CSU in many ways.

"This will help enhance the prestige of the university," Gardner said. "Dr. Luger will able to garner more grants, which will help CSU."

Luger has been very successful thus far in receiving grants for research. She was one of the four lead investigators in the W.M. Keck Foundation proposal. As a result of her work she was rewarded $1.2 million. This money will be used to research chromatin structure and function.

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