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2012 New Innovator Award Recipients

Christopher D.C. Allen, Ph.D.

Christopher D. C. Allen, Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Project Title: Cellular Interactions in Asthma

 

Debra Auguste, Ph.D.

Debra Auguste, Ph.D.
The City College of New York
Project Title: Personalized Therapeutics for Inhibiting Breast Cancer Metastasis

 

Emily Balskus, Ph.D.

Emily Balskus, Ph.D.
Harvard University
Project Title: Biocompatible Chemistry for In Vivo Metabolite Modification

 

Trever G. Bivona, M.D., Ph.D.

Trever G. Bivona, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Project Title: Discovery of Rational Companion Therapeutic Targets to Optimize Cancer Treatment

 

Dr. Trever Bivona is a board-certified medical oncologist with a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology. He maintains an active academic clinical practice while also leading a basic and translational research laboratory focused on cancer genetics and precision medicine. A major research interest is enhancing the understanding of the molecular basis of targeted cancer therapy response and resistance. He leads a multi-disciplinary team of investigators in laboratory-based, patient-focused investigation and is a principal investigator on clinical trials, enabling a bench-to-bedside multi-faceted research program. The overall goal of these efforts is to improve survival in molecular subclasses of cancer patients through novel precision medicine approaches.

 

 

Josh L. Bonkowsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Josh L. Bonkowsky, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Utah
Project Title: Trans-Cellular Activation of Transcription to Analyze Dopaminergic Axon Reorganiz

 

Elhanan Borenstein, Ph.D.

Elhanan Borenstein, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Project Title: A Computational Framework for Designing Microbiome Manipulation

 

Cliff Brangwynne, Ph.D.

Cliff Brangwynne, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Project Title: Cell Growth Control by Cell and Organelle Size-Dependent Ribosome Biogenesis

 

Amy Hitchcock Camp, Ph.D.

Amy Hitchcock Camp, Ph.D.
Mount Holyoke College
Project Title: A Feeding Tube Model for Bacterial Cell-Cell Communication

 

Amy Hitchcock Camp is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. She received her A.B. in Molecular Biology at Princeton University and her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. During her graduate research under the supervision of Dr. Pamela Silver, she investigated the ubiquitination of membrane proteins at the endoplasmic reticulum. Following a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Mount Holyoke College, Dr. Camp was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Richard Losick at Harvard University. Her research as a postdoctoral fellow and now as a principal investigator aims to identify novel mechanisms of gene regulation and cell-cell communication that drive bacterial differentiation. Dr. Camp is a recipient of the Harvard Medical School Hauser Teaching Award, NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award, and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

 

 

Jan Carette, Ph.D.

Jan Carette, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Genetic Approaches to Discover Host Factors Critical to Dengue Virus Infection

 

Shuibing Chen, Ph.D.

Shuibing Chen, Ph.D.
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Project Title: Studying the Progression and Regression of Beta Cell Dysfunction in Type 2 Diabetes

 

Ping Chi, M.D., Ph.D.

Ping Chi, M.D., Ph.D.
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Project Title: An Integrative Approach to Target Lineage-Specific Oncogenic Transcription Factor

 

Mark Churchland, Ph.D.

Mark Churchland, Ph.D.
Columbia University Health Sciences
Project Title: A Dynamical Systems Approach to Fundamental Questions in Neuroscience

 

Professor Churchland is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University Medical Center. He is the co-director of the Grossman Center for the Statistics of Mind. He received his B.A. in mathematics and psychology from Reed College in Portland Oregon. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California San Francisco. His postdoctoral work was in the Neural Prosthetic Systems Laboratory at Stanford University. Professor Churchland’s laboratory focuses on how the brain controls voluntary movement.

 

 

Bianxiao Cui, Ph.D.

Bianxiao Cui, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Engineering External Forces for Manipulating Cargo Transport in Live Neurons

 

Gautam Dantas, Ph.D

Gautam Dantas, Ph.D.
Washington University of St. Louis
Project Title: Metagenomic Engineering of Probiotic Bacteria to Improve Intestinal Colonization Dynamics and Relative Fitness

 

Gautam Dantas, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the Deparmtment of Molecular Microbiology, and the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology, at Washington University School of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington under the guidance of Dr. David Baker, and post-doctoral training in microbial genomics from Harvard Medical School under the guidance of Dr. George Church. Dr. Dantas’s research interests and training lie at the interface of microbial genomics, synthetic biology, systems biology, and computational biology. His current research focuses on understanding the evolution and exchange of antibiotic resistance amongst diverse microbial communities, on engineering improved probiotics to treat gastrointestinal disorders, and on engineering microbial catalysts to produce value chemicals such as biofuels. He is a recipient of the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the Harvard University Certificate for Distinction in Teaching, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Breakthrough Award, the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation Scholar Award, and the Academy of Science – St Louis Innovator Award. More information can be found at the Dantas Lab website. Exit Disclaimer

 

 

Duc S. Dong, Ph.D.

Duc S. Dong, Ph.D.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Project Title: Unlocking Regenerative Potential through In Vivo Genetic Reprogramming

 

Emily B. Falk, Ph.D.

Emily B. Falk, Ph.D.
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Project Title: Can Neuroscience Dramatically Improve our Ability to Design Health Communications

 

Adam Walter Feinberg, Ph.D.

Adam Walter Feinberg, Ph.D.
Carnegie-Mellon University
Project Title: Human Myocardium Engineered Using Developmentally-Inspired Protein Scaffolds

 

Harvinder Singh Gill, Ph.D.

Harvinder Singh Gill, Ph.D.
Texas Tech University
Project Title: Pollen Grains as Trojan Horses for Oral Vaccination

 

Andrew L. Goodman, Ph.D.

Andrew L. Goodman, Ph.D.
Yale University
Project Title: Defining the Contribution of Interpersonal Microbial Variation to Drug Metabolism

 

Jeff Gore, Ph.D.

Jeff Gore, Ph.D.
Massachusetts institute of Technology
Project Title: Early Warning Indicators of Tipping Points in Biological Systems

 

Jeff Gore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His group uses laboratory microbial microcosms to explore the ecological dynamics of interacting populations. With the support of a Hertz Fellowship, Jeff received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley working with Carlos Bustamante on single-molecule biophysics. As a Pappalardo Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT Jeff then switched into the field of systems biology, studying cooperation and cheating with Prof. Alexander van Oudenaarden. Jeff is an Allen Distinguished Investigator, Sloan Fellow, Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, NIH Pathways to Independence Awardee, and an NSF CAREER Awardee.

 

 

Xue Han, Ph.D.

Xue Han, Ph.D.
Boston University
Project Title: Light-Actuatable NanoRobots for Molecular Uncaging

 

Daniel A. Heller, Ph.D.

Daniel A. Heller, Ph.D.
Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Research
Project Title: Transient Metabolite Detection for Single-Cell Metabolomics and Diagnostics

 

John M. Higgins, M.D.

John M. Higgins, M.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Systems Biology of In Vivo Human Blood Cell Populations

 

Laura A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Laura A. Johnson, Ph.D.
Duke University
Project Title: Gene-Engineered Adoptive T Cell Immunotherapy of GBM

 

Rahul M. Kohli, M.D., Ph.D.

Rahul M. Kohli, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Project Title: Combating Bacterial Drug Resistance by Targeting the Enzymes of Evolution

 

Dr. Kohli is a biochemist and infectious diseases physician. He is an Assistant Professor and Scholar in Molecular Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. The chief objective of his research group is to study the dynamic nature of the genome by probing enzymes and pathways that diversify genomes, particularly at the immune-pathogen interface. The focus of his New Innovator Award is on targeting the enzymes that allow bacterial pathogens to diversify and escape antibiotic therapy. His lab’s work has more broadly garnered support from the Rita Allen Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Edward J. Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation, the Harrington Discovery Institute and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

 

 

Daniel Kronauer, Ph.D.

Daniel Kronauer, Ph.D.
Rockefeller University
Project Title: Studying the Molecular Mechanisms of Social Life Using a Novel Ant Model System

 

Daniel Kronauer studies social evolution and behavior within complex societies, using ants as model systems. He received his diploma in biology from the University of Würzburg in Germany in 2003, where he studied the evolution of social parasitism in honeypot ants with Bert Hölldobler and Jürgen Gadau. He received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, where he worked with Koos Boomsma on social dynamics in army ants. After a brief postdoctoral assignment at the University of Lausanne, he was elected as a junior fellow to the Harvard Society of Fellows in 2008, and joined The Rockefeller University as assistant professor in 2011. Daniel Kronauer is a 2012 Searle Scholar, a 2013 Kavli Fellow, a 2013 Hirschl/Weill-Caulier Trusts Research Award recipient, a 2014 Klingenstein-Simons Fellow in the Neurosciences, a 2015 Sinsheimer Scholar, and a 2015 Pew Biomedical Scholar.

 

 

Björn F. Lillemeier, Ph.D.

Björn F. Lillemeier, Ph.D.
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Project Title: Decipher Membrane Patterns In Situ with Super-Resolution and Dynamic Microscopy

 

Allen P. Liu, Ph.D.

Allen P. Liu, Ph.D.
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Project Title: Building Artificial Platelets

 

Allen Liu studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate at University of British Columbia and worked for a year in a liposome biotechnology lab. During his Ph.D. work in Biophysics at UC-Berkeley with Dr. Daniel Fletcher, he developed an in vitro model system to study the dynamic interplay between actin network assembly and membrane organization and deformation. As a post-doctoral fellow in Cell Biology in Drs. Sandy Schmid and Gaudenz Danuser’s labs, he worked on understanding the heterogeneity of clathrin-coated pit dynamics using a combination of single live cell imaging and computational image analysis. In 2012, Liu established his own research group at University of Michigan in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, focusing on mechanobiology of biological membrane in relation to endocytosis, cell migration, and bottom-up synthetic biology.

 

 

Wendy Liu, Ph.D.

Wendy Liu, Ph.D.
University of California Irvine
Project Title: Engineering Biomaterials to Exert Molecular Control of Immune Cell Function

 

Gaby Maimon, Ph.D.

Gaby Maimon, Ph.D.
Rockefeller University
Project Title: Linking Genes to Higher Brain Function by Way of Cellular Electrophysiology

 

Luciano A. Marraffini, Ph.D.

Luciano A. Marraffini, Ph.D.
Rockefeller University
Project Title: Using CRISPR Immunity to Prevent the Spread of Virulence Traits Among Pathogens

 

Luciano Marraffini performed doctoral work at the University of Chicago and post-doctoral studies at Northwestern University. Since 2010, he is an Assistant Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Bacteriology at The Rockefeller University. He is a pioneer in the study of prokaryotic adaptive immunity conferred by CRISPR-Cas loci, discovering that these immune systems target invading DNA molecules. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas immunity and its role in the control of horizontal gene transfer between bacteria. Dr. Marraffini has received numerous awards, including the Searle Scholars Award, the Rita Allen Foundation Award and was selected as a Finalist for the 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. For more information about Dr. Marraffini, visit http://marraffini.rockefeller.edu Exit Disclaimer.

 

 

Wei Min, Ph.D.

Wei Min, Ph.D.
Columbia University New York Morningside
Project Title: Label-Free Chemical Imaging for Biological Applications

 

Sua Myong, Ph.D.

Sua Myong, Ph.D.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Project Title: Quantitative Stepwise Analysis of RNA Interference

 

Sua Myong is an Associate Professor in Biophysics department at Johns Hopkins University. She has been trained in molecular cell Biology and biochemistry at UC Berkeley where she obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. For her postdoctoral work, she joined Dr. Taekjip Ha (HHMI, University of Illinois) who pioneered single molecule fluorescence imaging techniques. Her research focuses on molecular understanding of biological pathways including RNA interference, DNA repair, recombination, telomere processing and nucleosome remodeling. Myong is a recipient of NIH New Director’s Innovator Award, American Cancer Society Research Scholar and Human Frontier Science Program Award.

 

 

Christopher Niell, Ph.D.

Christopher Niell, Ph.D.
University of Oregon
Project Title: Connecting Developmental Mechanisms to Visual Function and Perception

 

Axel Nimmerjahn, Ph.D.

Axel Nimmerjahn, Ph.D.
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Project Title: Novel Approaches to Study Microglia Physiology and Pathology in the Intact Brain

 

Sallie R. Permar, M.D., Ph.D.

Sallie R. Permar, M.D., Ph.D.
Duke University
Project Title: Maternal Immune Protection Against Congenital CMV Infection

 

Dr. Permar is a physician scientist focusing on the prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections. She leads a research laboratory investigating maternal immune protection against vertical transmission of neonatal viral pathogens, including HIV and cytomegalovirus, using human cohorts and nonhuman primate models. Dr. Permar has a PhD in Microbiology/Immunology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed her clinical training in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She is currently an Associate Professor in Pediatrics, and an Assistant Professor in Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and Genetics at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Permar has made important contributions to the development of vaccines for prevention of infant HIV infection and the birth defects and neurologic deficits associated with congenital cytomegalovirus infection. She received several prestigious early-stage investigator awards, including the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering and the Society for Pediatrics Research Young Investigator Award in 2014.

 

 

Alexandrosc Pertsinidis, Ph.D.

Alexandrosc Pertsinidis, Ph.D.
Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Project Title: Understanding Gene Transcription from First-Principles: A Single-Molecule Study

 

Martin Prlic, Ph.D.

Martin Prlic, Ph.D.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Project Title: Paving the Way for a Novel Therapeutic Approach to Combat HIV

 

Avital Rodal, Ph.D.

Avital Rodal, Ph.D.
Brandeis University
Project Title: Activity-Dependent Regulation of Membrane Traffic and Growth Signaling in Neurons

 

Rajat Rohatgi, M.D., Ph.D.

Rajat Rohatgi, M.D., Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Reconstructing Primary Cilia

 

Rajat Rohatgi M.D., Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Biochemistry and Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in the Biochemical Sciences, where he worked on RNA biochemistry in Jack Szostak's lab. He then completed both MD and PhD degrees at Harvard Medical School, working in Marc Kirschner's lab on signal transduction pathways that regulate actin assembly in cells. He finished clinical training in medicine and oncology at Stanford and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Matt Scott's lab in the area of Hedgehog signal transduction. His laboratory works on the structure, assembly and signaling functions of the primary cilium, micron-scale signaling organelle that projects from most cells in our bodies and is required for the detection and processing of optical, chemical and mechanical signals.

 

 

Anne Schaefer, M.D., Ph.D.

Anne Schaefer, M.D., Ph.D.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Project Title: Cognate Microglia-Neuron Interaction and Its Role in Inflammation

 

Xiaokun Shu, Ph.D.

Xiaokun Shu, Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Project Title: New Principle-Based Technologies for Identifying Transient Protein Interactions

 

Vikaas S. Sohal, M.D., Ph.D.

Vikaas S. Sohal, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Project Title: Reverse Engineering the Prefrontal Microcircuit

 

Dr. Sohal studied Applied Mathematics at Harvard and Cambridge before completing his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Stanford. He stayed at Stanford for a psychiatry residency, during which he also worked with Karl Deisseroth using optogenetics to study the mechanisms and functions of brain oscillations. He is currently a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry and Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. His laboratory seeks to combine experimental and theoretical approaches in order to understand the “big picture” of how circuits in the prefrontal cortex function, and how they go awry in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. He continues to see psychiatric outpatients for one half day each week.

 

 

David Stoltz, M.D., Ph.D.

David Stoltz, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Iowa
Project Title: Airway Goblet Cells: Friend or Foe?

 

Ming Su, Ph.D.

Ming Su, Ph.D.
University of Central Florida
Project Title: Enhanced Radiation Therapy with Nanoscale Frequency Modulators

 

Alexander Eckehart Urban, Ph.D.

Alexander Eckehart Urban, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Genomic and Epigenomic Effects of Large CNV in Neurons from iPSC

 

Ilana B. Witten, Ph.D.

Ilana B. Witten, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Project Title: Therapeutic Plasticity: A Novel Paradigm for Treating Addiction

 

Kim A. Woodrow, Ph.D.

Kim A. Woodrow, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Project Title: Nanomaterials for Engineering Protection in the Genital Mucosa

 

Andrew Yoo, Ph.D.

Andrew Yoo, Ph.D.
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Project Title: Microrna and Neural Factor-Mediated Direct Reprogramming of Cell Fates

 

Siyang Zheng, Ph.D.

Siyang Zheng, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University- University Park
Project Title: Integration of Flexible Micro Spring Array and High Throughput Microfluidics for Obtaining Clinical Relevant Information from Circulating Tumor Cells

 

Siyang Zheng is currently an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He received B.S. in Biological Science and Biotechnology from Tsinghua University, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from California Institute of technology while studying miniaturized blood count technologies. He established the Penn State Micro & Nano Integrated Biosystem (MINIBio) Laboratory since 2009 focusing on developing innovative micro and nano technologies, applying these technologies to study complicated biological systems, and providing engineering solutions to current and future healthcare. His recent work includes label-free enrichment system for circulating tumor cells and viruses, nanomaterial integrated device and systems for biomarker detection and innovative devices for in vivo applications.

 

 

Ann C. Zovein, M.D.

Ann C. Zovein, M.D.
University California San Francisco
Project Title: Engineering Human Endothelium for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Production

 

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