News & Announcements

Historic Hires: Jackson Taylor, Ph.D., and Junior Gonzales, Ph.D. are CSU's First Ever NIH R00 Awardees

Biology And Chemistry Professors Are First Faculty Hired at CSU With K99/R00 Awards

Jackson Taylor, Ph.D. and Junior Gonzales, Ph.D.

As part of CSU 2.0, Cleveland State's plan for institutional strength and growth, the University has actively recruited highly accomplished new faculty, many of whom arrive with research grants in hand. Two new hires in the College of Arts & Sciences have brought with them the first ever National Institutes of Health (NIH) K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Awards at CSU.

Jackson Taylor, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences (BGES), and Junior Gonzales, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, joined CSU last fall. Both are members of the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease (GRHD).

The K99/R00 award facilitates a timely transition of outstanding postdoctoral researchers with a research and/or clinical doctorate degree from mentored, postdoctoral research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions. The program provides independent NIH research support during this transition in order to help awardees to launch competitive, independent research careers. The program is intended to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists is available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the Nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. The K99 portion of the award provides support during postdoctoral research, and converts to an R00 award when the awardee is established in a faculty position. In making funding decisions about R00 awards, NIH evaluates not only the applicant but also the institution, which should be research intense and committed to providing a supportive research environment to the candidate.

Dr. Taylor's research seeks to understand how the aging process leads to changes in chemical modifications to our genome, collectively called the "epigenome," and whether reversing these changes may be an effective strategy to treat age-related disease. His lab uses Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) as a model system to study these questions, in conjunction with next-generation sequencing and bioinformatic analysis, genetic engineering, and population longevity experiments. Dr. Taylor has worked in the field of aging for the past 15 years, and has published his work in top journals including PNAS, Nature, and Nature Communications. Dr. Taylor is joining CSU after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University in Providence, RI, where he received his K99/R00 award from the National Institute on Aging.

Dr. Gonzales attended Queensborough Community College, majoring in chemistry. In 2008, He became a MARC scholar at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he received his Bachelor's degree in biochemistry. In 2017, he obtained his PhD in chemistry from the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY, where he built his interest in near infrared dyes, chelations and biomedical applications with porphyrin sensors. The same year, he joined the Radiology Department of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he was trained in the translation of his synthetic probes from the bench to the pre-clinical setting. In 2021, Junior was named to SNMMI's "Ones to Watch 2021", a national award recognizing outstanding young scientists in the nuclear and molecular imaging field. The same year he was awarded the NIH MOSAIC K99/R00 grant to start his independent research studying multiplex imaging of cranial nerves. The MOSAIC K99/R00 program supports promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds.