Mellon Scholars

Mellon Scholars pursue potential breakthrough research projects in biomedicine

One of the unique facets of the Institute for Pediatric Research is the Mellon Scholars Program, which enables promising physician-scientists in the early stages of their careers to pursue potential breakthrough research projects in biomedicine. Startup and continuous funding together with state-of-the-art core facilities foster high-risk, high-impact projects and encourage the Institute’s researchers to pursue their most innovative ideas.

Mellon Scholars are selected on the basis of work that is:

  • Highly innovative, delivering new expertise to the biomedical research community
  • Likely to lead to major breakthroughs
  • Capable of having a long-lasting impact on the practice of medicine

The Scholars

Scott Canna, MD

Autoinflammatory disorders, where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks its own tissues, are the research focus of Scott Canna, MD. In particular, his laboratory studies an inflammation-inducing molecule called IL-18 and how it may contribute to human diseases including macrophage activation syndrome – a potentially life-threatening complication of certain childhood inflammatory diseases. Dr. Canna’s investigations include basic laboratory research with experimental model systems as well as clinical studies with human participants, all with the common goal of improving treatment for this disorder.

Timothy Hand, PhD

A scientist specializing in gastrointestinal immunology, Timothy Hand, MD focuses on the development and regulation of immune responses against microbiota, how gastrointestinal infection may “unleash” responses against commensal bacteria, and how the immune system is controlled to prevent overt pathology. His research has many applications and may provide insight into a variety of diseases affecting children, including Crohn’s disease, environmental enteropathy and food allergies. His research lab studies gastrointestinal immunity to the normal gastrointestinal tract and host-invading pathogens that may disrupt tissue stability.

Bernhard Kühn, MD

Understanding the unique workings of heart muscle cells is the passion of physician-scientist Bernhard Kühn, MD. He and his team of researchers in the Kühn Lab are focused on discovering ways to promote replication and proliferation of heart muscle cells so as to enable the heart to heal itself in cases of heart failure or congenital defects. A pioneer in this area of study, Dr. Kühn is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the American College of Cardiology’s prestigious Young Investigator Award. A board-certified pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Kuhn sees patients with heart muscle diseases in the outpatient clinic of the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.