Ellen Sletten, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry who holds the John McTague Career Development Chair at UCLA, has been awarded a $1.5 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, presented to scientists proposing highly innovative research to address major challenges in biomedical science.

Sletten leverages tools of physical organic chemistry to create new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies. She received the award for her research titled “Bioorthogonal host guest chemistry for tandem imaging and therapy.’’ This work involves new methods to image and treat diseases that have distinct metabolic features. (‘Bioorthogonal’ chemistry refers to a chemical reaction that can occur inside a living system without interfering with native biochemical processes.) This research will include the design and synthesis of new molecular recognition systems, conducted in collaboration with Kendall Houk, UCLA’s Saul Winstein Professor of Organic Chemistry.

“This program supports exceptionally innovative researchers who have the potential to transform the biomedical field,” said Francis Collins, director of the NIH. “I am confident this new cohort will revolutionize our approaches to biomedical research through their groundbreaking work.”