UTMB Professor Receives Prestigious NIH Prize

Dr. Ramkumar Menon, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was recently awarded a prestigious prize of $50,000 from the National Institutes of Health.  

The Complement Animal Research In Experimentation Challenge prize competition offered $1,000,000 in total prize money to diverse teams with ideas for using New Approach Methodologies, or NAMs, to conduct basic research, uncover disease mechanisms, and translate knowledge into products and practice.  

"Receiving the award for my team is evidence of our hard work to advance technology that has the potential to save lives of unborn babies and their pregnant mothers,” said Menon, “We are honored to receive this award from NIH and look forward to developing the technology to reach more women's health researchers and to advancing medicine for the benefit of mothers and their babies who are in utero. This award is a testament of our dedication and commitment to improve women's health."  

Menon’s winning NAM developed include pregnancy-associated organs reproduced in a humanized model of organ on a chip. NAMs reduce the use of animal models in medical research and accelerate preclinical trials of medicines to be used during pregnancy to improve baby's and maternal health.  

The National Institutes of Health Common Fund Complement-ARIE program hosted this challenge as part of the strategic planning process to refine the program concept. This program will develop, standardize, and validate the use of new approaches that will more accurately model human biology and complement, or in some cases, replace traditional research models, according to the NIH.  

Menon is among the twenty Complement-ARIE Challenge prize winners. The winning solutions were selected according to the official judging criteria and demonstrated out-of-the box solutions across the competition areas of in silico, in vitro, in chemico, and combinatorial methods. 

Menon’s winning team included Dr. Lauren Richardson, Dr. Ananth Kumar Kammala (UTMB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology), and Dr. Moumita Chakroborty (UTMB School of Public Health). 

View the winning solutions on the Complement-ARIE website.