CORVALLIS - James Carrington, a professor of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University, has received a prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health to provide long-term support for his research.

The Method to Extend Research in Time, or MERIT Award, will provide funding for five years with the possibility of an extension for another five years. Recipients must be nominated for this type of award, and only about 15 such honors are made each year across the nation.

The award recognizes "demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity."

Carrington, who earlier this year was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, received his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and has been on the OSU faculty since 2001, where he directs the university's Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing.His research has received millions of dollars in grant support from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies to explore such topics as how genes are "silenced" through a natural mechanism involving tiny RNA.

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Pat Hawk,