Jeffrey S Kieft, PhD

Most of us have heard of DNA, the doubled strands of genetic material that provide understanding of the development and function of living organisms. It’s our genes. But many outside of science probably know little of its scientific peer RNA, ribonucleic acid. A young scientist at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine is among the first to bring to light a new view of RNA and it’s earned him the honor of being named as one of the most promising young scientists in the country.
Jeffrey S Kieft, PhD, is among 50 young scientists to win this year’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award, a coveted award recognizing “big ideas” in science. Kieft is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at CU Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. His work focuses on RNAs found in viruses including hepatitis C virus, HIV-1, and poliovirus. Using cutting edge methods to understand the three-dimensional structures of these RNAs and how they work, he hopes to use this information to guide efforts to treat the diseases caused by these viruses.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will provide each Early Career Scientist with a full salary, benefits and a research budget of $1.5 million over the six-year appointment. Kieft is included in a group of scientists at a stage in their careers that many consider to be a scientist’s most productive – and most vulnerable – given the constraints of today’s research funding environment. In selecting finalists, the HHMI is guided by a “people, not projects” philosophy that defines its investigator program.
The University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine faculty work to advance science and improve care as the physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the CU Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is part of the University of Colorado Denver, one of three campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the CU Denver newsroom online.

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