A young scientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla has won a prestigious, $25,000 prize for his work on how mammalian cell size is influenced by its environment.

Liron Bar-Peled was named the 2014 grand prize winner of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists, which recognizes innovative research by early-career scientists.

The prize is administered by four universities in Sweden, and Bar-Peled will receive the award in Stockholm on Tuesday.

In his grand-prize winning essay, Bar-Peled tries to answer a fundamental question in the area of cell and developmental biology: how eukaryotic cell growth is regulated by the environment.

The essay, “Size does matter,” was published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

He highlights how multicellular organisms rely on cues from their environment to dictate cell size, and he describes how he and his colleagues studied the ways by which the mTORC1 signaling pathway — a master regulator of eukaryotic cell growth — can sense stimuli in its environment.

His team revealed that several mTORC1 components become mutated in certain human diseases, ranging from a primary immune disorder to glioblastoma and ovarian cancers. Their findings provide a better understanding of such diseases, and they may eventually be used to identify new ways of diagnosing and treating them.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.