Pagliarini awarded 2019 Romnes Fellowship

Photo of David Pagliarini.
Biochemistry professor David Pagliarini.

Biochemistry professor and Morgridge Institute for Research investigator David Pagliarini received a 2019 H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship. Eleven total University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty received the fellowship, which recognizes faculty up to six years past their first promotion to a tenured position.

The award is named in recognition of the late Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) trustee president H.I. Romnes, and comes with $60,000 that may be spent over five years. Support for the award is provided by the UW–Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (VCRGE) with funding from WARF. Among just the current biochemistry faculty, 14 others have also held this honor.

“The Romnes is a special recognition because it sends the message that the university values what we are doing and is willing to further invest in our success,” says Pagliarini, who is in his 10th year on campus. “This fellowship is also yet another reminder of how generous and empowering WARF is to our campus. We are quite fortunate to have them as partners in our research efforts.”

Pagliarini, director of the Morgridge Institute for Research’s Metabolism Theme, studies mitochondria — ubiquitous organelles essential for cellular metabolism. His lab integrates classic biochemistry with large-scale methodologies to systematically define the functions of uncharacterized mitochondrial proteins and to establish the detailed mechanisms that drive disease-related mitochondrial pathways. This combination of approaches, he adds, has worked well for his lab and will help them continue to venture into the dark corners of this organelle.

“Some of our most adventurous work is midstream right now and this kind of funding will help drive these projects to completion,” he says. “As a next phase in my lab’s growth and development, I would like to begin exploring therapeutic approaches for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. There is so much need in this space, and it would be very satisfying, across an entire career, to make an impact on rare disease treatment.”

Pagliarini adds that these flexible funds at this stage in his career are extremely helpful. They allow him and his lab to take risks and also provide funds at a critical transition from young investigator to mid-career.

“During the mid-career transition, there tends to be fewer opportunities to acquire flexible funding,” he explains. “These types of funds make it much easier to say yes to creative or riskier projects and experiments that could have a big impact. You feel empowered and supported to explore new areas.”

To read more about these professorships and other recent campus awards, see here.