NIH Director's Transformative Research Award Recipients

2017 Awardees

Anne Milasincic Andrews

Anne Milasincic Andrews, Ph.D.

Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles

Project Title: Micro- to Nanoscale Neurochemical Sensors
Grant ID: R01-DA-045550

Anne Andrews is Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles where she leads efforts in basic and translational research on anxiety and depression, and at the nexus of neuroscience and nanoscience. Andrews’ interdisciplinary research team focuses discovering, developing, and using in vivo neurotransmitter monitoring approaches to understand how the serotonin (and other) systems encode emotionally important information. Dr. Andrews earned her B.S. in Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University and Ph.D. in Chemistry as a U.S. Department of Education Fellow working at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she was also a postdoctoral and senior staff fellow. Andrews is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, International Society for Serotonin Research President-Elect, and serves as Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience.


Steven A. Benner

Steven A. Benner, Ph.D.

Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution | The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology

Project Title: Transforming Life Sciences: Artificial Life
Grant ID: R01-GM-128186

Dr. Benner’s research combines two traditions in science, one from natural history, and the other from the physical sciences. In making this combination, the Benner group has helped found and develop several fields, including synthetic biology, paleogenetics, evolutionary bioinformatics, planetary biology, and astrobiology. His laboratory was the first to redesign DNA to expand the genetic alphabet, to resurrect genes and proteins from extinct organisms, to organize whole genome databases according to their evolutionary history, and to successfully predict how proteins fold. Technology from his laboratory has supported to date perhaps $1.3 billion in medicine-related economic activity. Prior to his establishing FfAME and TWIST, he held appointments at Harvard, the ETH Zurich, and the University of Florida.


Ed Boyden

Ed Boyden, Ph.D.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project Title: High-Performance Imaging Through Scattering Living Tissue
Grant ID: R01-DA-045549

Ed Boyden is a professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, and optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress. Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013), the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (twice, 2012 and 2013), and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011), and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017).


Long Cai

Long Cai, Ph.D.

Caltech

Project Title: MEMOIR: Recording, and In Situ Readout of Cell Lineage and Transcriptional History
Grant ID: R01-MH-116508
Co-PIs: Michael B. Elowitz, Ph.D. and Carlos Lois, M.D., Ph.D.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health

The Cai lab developed seqFISH (sequential FISH), an in situ methods to profile gene expression in single cells directly within tissues. We also developed MEMOIR to record and readout molecular information directly inside cells in collaboration with the Elowitz lab. For developing these single cell genomics technologies, Long Cai has been award with the McKnight Foundation Technology Innovation Award, Allen Foundation Distinguished Investigator Award, and NIH New Innovator Award.


Daniel T. Chiu

Daniel T. Chiu, Ph.D.

University of Washington

Project Title: Spatially Resolved Transcriptomics Enabled by Ultrabright Pdot Probes for Interrogation of Complex Tissues
Grant ID: R01-MH-115767
Co-PI: Joshua C. Vaughan, Ph.D.

Daniel T. Chiu is the A. Bruce Montgomery Professor of Chemistry, Washington Research Foundation Professor of Chemistry, Endowed Professor of Analytical Chemistry, and Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. He obtained a B.A. in Neurobiology and a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993, then a Ph.D in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1998. After completing postdoctoral research at Harvard University, he started in the Fall of 2000 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington. He is currently a member of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute and the Neurobiology and Behavior Program at the University of Washington, as well as a member of the Cancer Consortium at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.


Karina W. Davidson

Karina W. Davidson, Ph.D., M.A.Sc.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Project Title: Re-engineering Precision Therapeutics Through N-of-1 Trials
Grant ID: R01-LM-012836

Karina W. Davidson is a Professor of Medicine & Psychiatry, Executive Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, and Vice-Dean at Columbia University Medical Center. She is also Chief Academic Officer for NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She is a member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force and the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute’s Board of External Experts.


Michael B. Elowitz

Michael B. Elowitz, Ph.D.

California Institute of Technology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Project Title: MEMOIR: Recording, and In Situ Readout of Cell Lineage and Transcriptional History
Grant ID: R01-MH-116508
Co-PIs: Long Cai, Ph.D. and Carlos Lois, M.D., Ph.D.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health

Michael Elowitz is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biology, Biological Engineering, and Applied Physics at Caltech. Dr. Elowitz's laboratory develops synthetic biology approaches to understand and redesign cellular functions. Previous work elucidated the roles of random fluctuations, or ‘noise’, in living cells, and identified design principles for intercellular communication and epigenetic memory systems. Current research focuses on bringing synthetic biology approaches to address challenges in understanding and controlling multicellular development. Honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, the Nakasone Prize, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Christopher D. Johnston

Christopher D. Johnston, Ph.D.

The Forsyth Institute, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Project Title: The SyngenicDNA and µPOET Platform: Overcoming Innate Barriers to Genetic Engineering in Bacteria.
Grant ID: R01-DE-027850
Funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the Office of the Director

Christopher Johnston is an assistant investigator at the Forsyth Institute and an affiliate of Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Department of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity.  After completing his primary degree in Applied Biosciences (2008) and his Ph.D in Molecular Microbiology (2013) at Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland, he moved to the Forsyth Institute, Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease where he completed his postdoctoral education and established his laboratory (2016). His areas of interest include; bacterial epigenetics and virulence, synthetic microbiology, and the development of bacteriophage based therapeutics. In this T-R01 project, a collaborative endeavor with Cullen Buie at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johnston aims to overturn the current restrictive paradigm of genetic intractability facing microbiology by creating a platform to facilitate genetic tractability in virtually any cultivable bacterial species; massively expediting fundamental examination of not-yet genetically tractable microbes relevant to human health and disease, as well as environmental and industrial applications.


Carlos Lois

Carlos Lois, M.D., Ph.D.

Caltech

Project Title: MEMOIR: Recording, and In Situ Readout of Cell Lineage and Transcriptional History
Grant ID: R01-MH-116508
Co-PIs: Long Cai, Ph.D. and Michael B. Elowitz, Ph.D.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health

Carlos Lois is currently Research Professor in Neurobiology at the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech. Dr. Lois' PhD work demonstrated that the brain of adult mice contains stem cells that move long distances through the brain and differentiate into neurons in the olfactory bulb, via a new form of migration that is now known as neuronal chain migration. As a postdoctoral fellow he developed lentiviral transgenesis, an effective method that is now widely used to genetically manipulate animal species that were previously refractory to germline molecular manipulations, such as birds and non-human primates. The Lois lab currently focuses on the generation of neuronal diversity and assembly of neuronal circuit assembly during postnatal neurogenesis. To address these questions his laboratory develops new methods to genetically manipulate the development and biophysical properties of neurons. Honors include the Ellison Foundation New Scholar award, the Packard Foundation Scholar award, and two NIH BRAIN initiative awards. He received his M.D. from the University of Valencia (Spain), his Ph.D. in neurobiology from The Rockefeller University, and did postdoctoral work at MIT and Caltech.  He started his lab at the department of Brain and Cognitive Science at MIT in 2002, moved to the Neurobiology Department at UMass Medical School in 2010, and joined Caltech in 2015.


Daniel Mucida

Daniel Mucida, Ph.D.

The Rockefeller University

Project Title: Functional Mapping of Enteric-Associated Neurons
Grant ID: R01-DK-116646

Daniel Mucida received his B.S. in Biology, with emphasis in Biochemistry and Immunology, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) in 2000. He received his Ph.D. (Immunology) in 2005 from the University of São Paulo and New York University. After completing his postdoctoral research at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, he joined Rockefeller’s faculty in 2010 as Assistant Professor and in 2016 was promoted to Associate Professor. 


Joshua C. Vaughan

Joshua C. Vaughan, Ph.D.

University of Washington

Project Title: Spatially Resolved Transcriptomics Enabled by Ultrabright Pdot Probes for Interrogation of Complex Tissues
Grant ID: R01-MH-115767
Co-PI: Daniel T. Chiu, Ph.D.

Joshua C. Vaughan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. His research group focuses on the development of methods and probes for nanoscale biological imaging and their application to a range of biological questions. He received a B.A. in chemistry from Reed College, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied ultrafast spectroscopy and optics with Prof. Keith Nelson, and he performed postdoctoral research at Harvard University with Prof. Xiaowei Zhuang in super-resolution microscopy. His previous awards include a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship and a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface.








This page last reviewed on October 5, 2017