MSU research associate earns $837,000 award to advance research

Posted at 11:54 AM, Dec 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-01 11:54:07-05

Kyaw “Joe” Aung, a research associate in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, College of Natural Science, is the recipient of a 2016 National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award. The award will provide up to $837,000 in financial support over five years to support Aung’s research on how harmful bacteria infect plants.

“Scientists have known about the battle bacteria have trying to invade plants,” Aung said. “I want to reveal how the bacteria manipulate the communication network between the plant cells.”

Aung’s mentor, Sheng Yang He, MSU Distinguished Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator—Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, is pleased with Aung’s receipt of the award.

“Joe is clearly one of the most capable, yet extremely modest and nicest postdocs I have mentored in my scientific career,” He said. “Receiving an NIH K99 award is both a well-deserved recognition of Joe’s achievements and a great opportunity for launching his independent scientific career."

Aung is honored to receive the award, which has historically been given to research projects advancing human disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

"It’s a humbling experience to know that I was chosen among a group of talented postdocs,” Aung said. “This research might give us a new angle into studying why and how we humans get sick.”

Aung was born and raised in Burma/Myanmar. He received a B.S. and a M.S. in horticulture from the National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan, and his Ph.D. at MSU. He has been a postdoc in He’s lab for almost five years.

To read more about Aung’s work, visit