Developmental biologist Maksim Plikus studies how stem cells can be reprogrammed to heal wounds and avoid skin scarring. Daniel A. Anderson / UCI

Maksim Plikus, assistant professor of developmental & cell biology, is among the exceptional early-career scientists named a 2016 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. For more than 30 years, the Pew Charitable Trusts have supported outstanding biomedical researchers at the start of their careers, and this year’s class of 22 scholars is drawn from prestigious institutes across the country. Each scholar will receive flexible funding for four years to pursue foundational, innovative research. Pew will award Plikus $240,000 to support his work on how wounds in the skin can heal without scarring. His research aims to show that under certain circumstances the stem cells in scar tissue can be reprogrammed into new, useful cell types that encourage fresh skin growth. “The regeneration mechanism we will study with the help of Pew funding is likely universal to scarring in organs other than skin,” said Plikus, who is a member of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. “We envision that pharmacological augmentation of this mechanism could have a transformative effect on the anti-scarring therapies, which are currently minimally effective.” Plikus earned a doctorate in pathology at USC and joined the UCI faculty in 2012.