Skip to main content


Stowers Investigator awarded prestigious MIRA grant

Stowers Associate Investigator SaraH Zanders received the Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

09 February 2024

Stowers Associate Investigator and Vice Dean SaraH Zanders, Ph.D.

Associate Investigator and Vice Dean of the Graduate School SaraH Zanders, Ph.D., from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research received the prestigious MIRA grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH. With five years of funding support, MIRA is intended to enhance talented investigators’ research productivity and potential scientific breakthroughs by providing stability and flexibility in financial support.

This award will support the Zanders Lab in their investigation of selfish genes called meiotic drivers. Considered parasitic genetic elements, these genes can negatively impact fertility and health. The research will expand the lab’s understanding of the mechanisms and evolution of meiotic drivers at the molecular level, which may be invaluable for discovering similar genes in humans that can result in infertility and disease.

During meiosis, the cell division that gives rise to sperm and eggs, the presence of parasitic genes called meiotic drivers bias their transmission to the next generation at the expense of fitness and fertility of the host. The Zanders Lab has identified a meiotic gene family in fission yeast called wtf. Wtf genes employ a strategy to ensure their survival by manufacturing poison proteins to destroy offspring lacking the drive gene while also making an antidote protein to rescue offspring that inherit drive. Gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how wtf driver genes work and impact genome evolution in yeast will help find and characterize meiotic drivers in more complex organisms, including humans. The knowledge acquired through this research holds potential to improve human fertility in the future.

Zanders shared, “I am excited about the work this award will allow us to pursue."

Newsletter & Alerts