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2015 Pioneer Award Recipients

Giovanni Bosco, Ph.D.
Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine
Project Title: Trans-Generational Effects of Social Learning?
Grant ID: DP1-MH-110234
Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Mental Health & Office of the Director

 

Giovanni Bosco received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University where he trained with Dr. James Haber, and he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute at MIT where he trained with Dr. Terry Orr-Weaver. Dr. Bosco began his independent research program at the University of Arizona, Tucson in 2002, and recently moved to Dartmouth College where he is currently an associate professor of genetics at the Geisel School of Medicine. His research program has focused on chromosome dynamics, chromatin structure and 3D spatial organization of genomes. His most recent interests are to understand the molecular bases of how learning and memory occurs in the context of social behavior, how social behavior alters the mind-body connection, and how social behavior can be inherited through multiple generations.

 

 

Jeffery S. Cox, Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Project Title: Host-Directed Strategies to Create Synergistic Antibacterial Therapies
Grant ID: DP1-AI-124619
Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases & Office of the Director

 

Jeffery S. Cox received his B.S. in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley and studied immunology in the laboratory of Dr. Marion Koshland. For his graduate studies at UC San Francisco, Jeff made the initial discoveries of the unfolded protein response in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Walter, and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics. Jeff moved across the country for his postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Bill Jacobs at Albert Einstein School of Medicine where he committed his career to studies on M. tuberculosis. He returned to UC San Francisco as a faculty member and is currently a Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

Matthew David Disney, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute
Project Title: Using a Disease-Affected Cell to Synthesize Its Own Drug
Grant ID: DP1-NS-096898
Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke & Office of the Director

 

Prof. Matthew Disney received his early schooling in the Baltimore Catholic School System, his B.S. from the University of Maryland, his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester under the guidance of Professor Douglas H. Turner, and was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and ETH, Zürich in Professor Peter H. Seeberger’s laboratory. Prof. Disney is currently a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute.

Zemer Gitai, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Project Title: Mechano-Microbiology: How Physical Forces Control Bacterial-Host Interactions
Grant ID: DP1-AI-124669
Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases & Office of the Director

 

Zemer GItai, Ph.D., is a Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. He received his B.Sc. in Biology from MIT in 1996 and his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from UCSF in 2003 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in 2005. His group uses quantitative and physical approaches to understand bacterial growth, metabolism, and pathogenesis with an emphasis on self-assembling polymers such as cytoskeletal elements. His lab's findings include understanding how cytoskeletal elements pattern cell shape, how polymers spatially organize metabolic networks, and how mechanical forces impact bacterial colonization and virulence. His work has been recognized by honor such as the Beckman Young Investigator award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator award, and the HFSP Young Investigator Award.

Jonathon Howard, Ph.D.
Yale University
Project Title: Cell Biological Limitations Constrain Dendritic Branching Morphology and Neuronal Function
Grant ID: DP1-MH-110065
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health & Office of the Director

 

Joe Howard studied Mathematics (B.Sc., 1979) and Neurobiology (Ph.D., 1983) at the Australian National University. His interest in mechanics at the cellular and molecular scale began during postdoctoral studies in Bristol, UK and San Francisco (hair cells and hearing) and continued as a Professor at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle (motor proteins) and as Director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics in Dresden, Germany (cytoskeletal systems). Joe's research combines theory and experiment. He joined the Yale MB&B faculty in 2013 and holds a secondary appointment in Physics.

Craig Montell, Ph.D.
University of California Santa Barbara
Project Title: Creation of a New Generation of Transgenic Mosquitoes to Control Infectious Disease
Grant ID: DP1-AI-124453
Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases & Office of the Director

 

Craig Montell received his B.A. in Bacteriology from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. After his postdoctoral training with Dr. Gerald Rubin at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Montell joined the faculty of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988. In 2013, Dr. Montell moved to the Department of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara where is the Patricia and Robert Duggan Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Montell holds honorary doctorate degrees from KU (Katholieke Universiteit) Leuven, Belgium (2010) and the Baylor College of Medicine (2011), and in 2014 was elected a Fellow of the AAAS.

Coleen T. Murphy, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Project Title: Toward the Tissue-ome: A Map of the C. elegans Cell-specific Transcriptome
Grant ID: DP1-GM-119167
Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences & Office of the Director

 

Coleen T. Murphy is a Professor of Genomics and Molecular Biology at Princeton University. She graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, then earned her doctorate in Biochemistry at Stanford University, studying the structure-function determinants of the motor protein myosin. Dr. Murphy became interested in applying new quantitative technologies to approach the question of aging during her postdoctoral work in Dr. Cynthia Kenyon’s lab (UCSF), developing microarray approaches to identify the set of genes downstream of the insulin signaling/FOXO longevity pathway, revealing a a vast array of downstream cellular processes, including stress response, proteostasis, metabolism, immunity, autophagy, and intercellular signaling, to extend cellular and organismal maintenance with age. In her own lab, Dr. Murphy’s team has developed C. elegans models of human “quality of life” aging phenotypes, such as cognitive aging and reproductive aging; these processes are remarkably well-conserved at the molecular level, and her group has identified genetic pathways that can extend these processes with age through the development of quantitative assays and genomic approaches to study these aging phenomena.

 

 

Gwendalyn J. Randolph, Ph.D.
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
Project Title: Integrating Cell & Lipoprotein Trafficking with Vascular Biology in Human IBD
Grant ID: DP1-DK-109668
Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases & Office of the Director

 

Dr. Randolph received her Ph.D. in 1995 from the Department of Pathology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she worked with Martha Furie on transendothelial migration of human monocytes. She then carried out postdoctoral studies under the co-mentorship of the late Nobel laureate and immunologist Ralph Steinman at The Rockefeller University and the vascular biologist William Muller in the Department of Pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College. There her major focus emerged on dendritic cell trafficking and interactions with lymphatic vessels. She began her independent laboratory at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York in 2000 and was promoted to Professor there in 2010, where her laboratory pioneered approaches to investigate the trafficking of immune cells and lipoproteins in chronic inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis. In 2011, she moved to the Department of Pathology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and was appointed Chief of the Division of Immunobiology within the department in 2015. She has previously received an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association and Innovator and Breakthrough Awards from The Rainin Foundation. Her research will exploit her skills in immune cell and lipoprotein trafficking to examine vascular changes in the pathogenesis of human Crohn's disease.

 

 

Steven J. Schiff, M.D., Ph.D
The Pennsylvania State University
Project Title: Control of the Neonatal Septisome and Hydrocephalus in Sub-Saharan Africa
Grant ID: DP1-HD-086071
Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development & Office of the Director

 

Steven J. Schiff, Brush Chair Professor of Engineering and Director of the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering, is a faculty member in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Engineering Science and Mechanics, and Physics at Penn State. A Pediatric Neurosurgeon with particular interests in Epilepsy, Hydrocephalus, Sustainable Health Engineering and Global Health, he holds an S.B. degree from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Physiology and M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine. He wrote the first book on Neural Control Engineering, published by the MIT Press in 2012, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neural Engineering, Physical Review X, Neural Computation, and Journal of Computational Neuroscience. Dr. Schiff is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, American College of Surgeons, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been elected to the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons and the American Academy of Neurological Surgery. He plays the viola in the Nittany Valley Symphony in an out of tune manner.

 

 

Hao Wu, Ph.D.
Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Project Title: SMOCs: Novel Signal Transduction Complexes as New Targets for Drug Discovery
Grant ID: DP1-HD-087988
Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development & Office of the Director

 

Hao Wu received her pre-medical training at Peking University from 1982 to 1985 and studied Medicine at Peking Union Medical College from 1985 to 1988. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Purdue University in 1992, working in the laboratory of Professor Michael Rossmann. After performing postdoctoral training at Columbia University in the laboratory of Professor Wayne Hendrickson, she became an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in 1997 and was promoted to Professor in 2003. In 2012, Hao moved to Harvard Medical School as the Asa and Patricia Springer Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and as the Senior Investigator in the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine of Boston Children’s Hospital. Hao has received a number of honors, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute pre-doctoral fellowship, the Aaron Diamond postdoctoral fellowship, the Pew Scholar award, the Rita Allen Scholar award, New York Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, the Margaret Dayhoff Memorial Award from the Biophysical Society, and Purdue University Distinguished Science Alumni Award. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Cancer Research Institute and the Editorial Board of Cancer Cell. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.  

 

 

Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine and VA Palo Alto
Project Title: A Bioorthogonal Approach to Study Mammalian Aging
Grant ID: DP1-AG-053015
Funded by the National Institute on Aging & Office of the Director

 

Tony Wyss-Coray is a professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the Palo Alto VA. He received a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and postdoctoral training with Lennart Mucke at Scripps, San Diego and the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco. His lab investigates the role of immune responses in brain aging and neurodegeneration with a focus on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. He combines molecular and cellular studies in animal models with plasma proteomics in mice and humans, showing most recently that systemic circulatory factors can modulate neurogenesis, neuroinflammation, and cognitive function in mice and that blood-derived factors from young mice or humans can rejuvenate the aging mouse brain.

 

Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D.
Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience
Project Title: Deciphering Biochemical Networks in Single Dendritic Spines
Grant ID: DP1-NS-096787
Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke & Office of the Director

 

Dr. Yasuda received his Ph.D. in Physics from Keio University Graduate School of Science and Technology in Yokohama, Japan, on his study showing that the enzyme ATP synthase is a rotary motor made of single molecule and that its energy conversion efficiency is close to 100%. He completed his postdoc training with Dr. Karel Svoboda at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he built an imaging device to monitor protein interactions in living cells with high sensitivity and resolution. During his period as an assistant professor of Duke University Medical Center and an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, he developed a number of biosensors to visualize signaling activity in single synapses. Dr. Yasuda is currently a Scientific Director at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience where his research is focused on understanding operation principles of signaling networks underlying synaptic plasticity, which ultimately gives rise to learning and memory.

 

 

Sheng Zhong, Ph.D.
University of California San Diego
Project Title: Mapping RNA Interactomes by Sequencing
Grant ID: DP1-HD-087990
Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development & Office of the Director

 

After double majoring in Mathematics and Economics in Beijing University, Sheng obtained a Ph.D. in Biostatistics at Harvard University. He worked at Stanford University and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before moving to University of California San Diego. He received NSF CAREER Award, NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and Alfred Sloan Fellowship. He serves as an Associate Editor for PLoS Computational Biology and the contact PI for NIH 4D Nucleome organizational hub.

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