Published: July 5, 2018

Jerome FoxUniversity of Colorado Boulder chemical and biological engineering Assistant Professor Jerome M. Fox won two prestigious national awards this spring.

Fox found out on the same day in March that he had received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career (CAREER) Award and the U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigator Award.

The CAREER Award is given to early-career faculty who have the potential to become leaders in research and education while also advancing the mission of their department and organizations. The five-year, $514,000 grant will help to address a longstanding challenge of medical science: the development of low-cost pharmaceuticals. Fox will develop an approach to “evolve” drug leads (biologically active molecules that could serve as the starting point for new pharmaceuticals) that can be synthesized in simple microorganisms. This project is unique in its focus on two challenges usually examined in isolation: the discovery of leads and the synthesis of those leads. If successful, it could accelerate the rate and lower the cost of drug development.

The ARO award will fund a study focused on a long-standing question: How do biological systems do so much with so little? Fox will determine how enzymes - Nature’s catalysts - work together to carry out complex operations quickly. This work will help illuminate the biochemical basis of information processing and “low-power complexity” in living systems. If successful, this project could lead to new varieties of dynamically adjustable biochemical systems and materials. The award will total $360,000 and will be given over three years.

Fox has been an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering since 2016. He earned his undergraduate degrees in environmental engineering and natural science from Johns Hopkins University and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.