UCSF Researchers Among Those Recognized by President Obama

Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers Honor 102 Recipients

President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Three UC San Francisco researchers and one Yale faculty member who recently accepted a position at UCSF are among 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. They were recognized by President Barack Obama at the White House on April 14.

UCSF honorees include Karunesh Ganguly, MD, PhD, assistant professor in residence at the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Department of Neurology; Katherine Rauen, MD, PhD, MS, a medical geneticist and former director of the UCSF NF/Ras Pathway Genetics ClinicShingo Kajimura, PhD, assistant professor at the UCSF Diabetes Center, the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, and the UCSF School of Dentistry; and Young-Shin Kim, MD, PhD, MS, MPH, associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, who recently accepted a position with the UCSF Department of Psychiatry.

Karunesh Ganguly, MD, PhD

Ganguly studies new treatments for patients recovering from neurological conditions and injuries. He is specifically interested in the development of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that have the potential to revolutionize the care of neurologically impaired patients by allowing electronic devices to directly interface with the brain. 

“I am truly honored to be selected for this award,” Ganguly said. “I have worked with a lot of great clinicians and scientists over the past decade. I owe much of my success to them. I would especially like to acknowledge Jose Carmena and Gary Abrams. Both the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) and UCSF have been tremendously supportive of our multidisciplinary research efforts. I would also like to thank my parents for their sacrifices when moving to this country.”

Katherine Rauen, MD, PhD, MS

Rauen is a leader in studying Ras/MAPK pathway genetics syndromes and coined the term "RASopathies." Ras/MAPK is the regulation of cell growth, critical to normal development. She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work in array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), a technique to analyze genes.

“I am so honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Rauen, an adjunct professor at the UCSF Department of Pediatrics who recently accepted a position with the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics. “The national recognition of this clinical translational work on the RASopathies is truly a team effort of dedicated researchers, notably Dr. Bill Tidyman, our caring and compassionate genetic counselors, Andrea Zanko and Vicki Cox, who supported the new and novel ‘NF/Ras Clinic’ providing best practices for the RASopathy patients worldwide, and the dedicated families of CFC International, the Costello Syndrome Family Network/CostelloKids, NF Inc. California and the Noonan Syndrome Support Group in their support for research in Genomic Medicine. I am very appreciative of Dr. Donna Ferriero’s unwavering support and guidance over the years. We look forward to continuing this very important research.”

Kajimura’s work has focused on obesity and metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He has been studying the molecular control of brown fat development. His goal is to develop novel therapies for obesity, insulin resistance and metabolic diseases.

Shingo Kajimura, PhD

“I would like to acknowledge my lab members for their tremendous efforts, especially Matthias Hebrok and Diane Barber for their warmest support,” Kajimura said. “I would also like to thank my other colleagues at UCSF.”

Kim’s research focuses on the distribution and etiology of childhood onset developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and disruptive behavioral disorders, including exploration of the prevalence, incidence and genetic and gene-environmental interactions of those conditions.

“Needless to say, I am honored to be selected and I feel incredibly fortunate because my scientific career would not have merited such recognition without the extraordinary mentorship and guidance that I have received from Matthew W. State, W. Thomas Boyce, and Stephen Hinshaw, who are all at UCSF,” Kim said. “Also, Bennett Leventhal, who will also join UCSF, has been a wonderful mentor, colleague, friend and supporter, who also happens to be my husband. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to become part of the UCSF family, to rejoin my mentors and to collaborate with them.”

Young-Shin Kim, MD, PhD, MS, MPH

The Presidential Early Career Awards represent the Obama administration’s commitment to producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy.



“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

The recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Intelligence Community, which join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.

The awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. The PECASE awards were established by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

President Barack Obama poses for a photograph with the PECASE winners. UCSF's Shingo Kajimura, PhD, stands next to Obama, to his right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)