Notre Dame cancer researcher receives NIH New Innovator Award

Author: Brandi Wampler

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Katharine White, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, has been granted a highly competitive Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award will allow her to conduct innovative and high-impact research on the effect of heterogeneity in driving cancer cell behaviors.

Each year, the NIH awards grants a select number of researchers from across the country from their High Risk, High Reward Research Program, which includes the New Innovator Award. The New Innovator Award provides $1.5 million to exceptionally creative, early career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree and who propose innovative, high-impact projects. White is one of 53 recipients of this year’s New Innovator Award, the fourth faculty from Notre Dame to ever receive the recognition, and the first faculty from Notre Dame’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“I am excited to be recognized by the NIH for my early career success and for the ability to work on this innovative and high-impact cancer research project,” said White. “I look forward to applying this grant towards my lab’s ongoing research that applies new innovative tools to study the molecular underpinnings of cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis.”

White and her research lab study how intracellular pH dynamics regulate proteins, pathways, and cell behaviors. With this work, White aims to understand how pH dynamics drive cancer cell behaviors and how those mechanisms can be exploited for more effective and safer cancer therapies.

“Katharine has been a tremendous addition to the Harper Cancer Research Institute and our team of multi-disciplinary, diverse faculty of cancer researchers who approach their work with innovative thinking. I am excited to see what progress the White Lab will make with this new award and how it will benefit their research program and provide exciting new tools for the fight against cancer,” said M. Sharon Stack, Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) and Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

White joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2019 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California – San Francisco until 2018. She graduated with her PhD in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012 and earned her bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College in 2007. White is also a member of Notre Dame’s HCRI and Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics.

To learn more about Professor Katharine White and her research, please visit


Brandi Wampler / Research Communications Specialist

Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 1.574.631.8183 / @UNDResearch

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.

Originally published by Brandi Wampler at on October 06, 2020.