The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced Monday that Brian Koss, a researcher with its Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, is the state’s first recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award.
The award includes a five-year, nearly $1.9 million grant to fund his specialized cancer treatment research.
Koss, Ph.D., is one of 13 award recipients in the U.S., from institutions that include Stanford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, Vanderbilt and Columbia.
He plans to use the funding to build a team of researchers.
Unique to his research is the use of proteomics — powerful computing tools that help make sense of enormous amounts of biological data, according to a news release. In addition, UAMS is home to the NIH’s only national proteomics resource, the IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics.
“Dr. Koss performed his graduate work in my laboratory, building a program that focused on how the environment in solid tumors creates unique challenges for immunotherapies,” Alan Tackett, Ph.D., deputy director of the Cancer Institute, said in the release. “He will now translate his graduate work to build an independent research program at the Cancer Institute, focusing on how to better understand and engineer the immune system to recognize and eliminate tumors from the body.”
Koss completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Hendrix College in Conway. Then he worked as a research technician at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
Koss returned to Arkansas in 2015 to begin graduate studies at UAMS and earned his Ph.D. in 2020.