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2011 New Innovator Award Recipients


Stephen G. Aller, Ph.D

Stephen G. Aller, Ph.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Project Title: Streamlined Structures of Human Integral Membrane Proteins at Atomic Resolution


Aaron B. Baker, Ph.D. Aaron B. Baker, Ph.D.
University of Texas at Austin
Project Title: Engineering Effective Revascularization Strategies for Ischemia in Disease States


Aaron Baker is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and a Fellow of the Marion E. Forsman Centennial Professorship in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his B.S.E/M.S.E. degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Washington and his Doctoral degree from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. He is a fellow of the American Heart Association and served as an associate scientific advisor for Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Baker’s laboratory focuses on using multidisciplinary approaches to study the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease and the interactions of cancer with the vascular system. His recent research has included the development of novel therapies for treating peripheral vascular disease and the creation of in vitro platforms for performing high throughput drug screening that incorporate the biomechanical forces present in the body.



Maria Barna, Ph.D. Maria Barna, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Project Title: Specialized Ribosomes in Control of Gene Expression and Embryonic Development



Uttiya Basu, Ph.D. Uttiya Basu, Ph.D.
Columbia University
Project Title: Non-Coding RNA Engineers Antibody Diversity



Nicolas E. Buchler, Ph.D.

Nicolas E. Buchler, Ph.D.
Duke University
Project Title: Rewiring the Yeast Brain: Redundancy and Interference in Genetic Networks


Nicolas Buchler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology with a secondary appointment in Physics. He obtained his doctoral degree in Biophysics from the University of Michigan, where he worked with Richard Goldstein on protein designability and evolution. This was followed by postdoctoral research on the mechanisms and dynamics of gene regulation with Terence Hwa at the University of California, San Diego and then Frederick Cross at the Rockefeller University. Nick joined the Duke faculty in 2009. His lab uses an interdisciplinary approach (theory and experiment; physics and biology; synthetic and systems biology) to understand the diverse molecular and evolutionary mechanisms by which thresholds and combinatorial control, bistability and oscillation have evolved in biological systems.



Long Cai, Ph.D. Long Cai, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
Project Title: Systems Biology in Single Cells by Super-Resolution Barcoding



Julie C. Canman, Ph.D. Julie C. Canman, Ph.D.
Columbia University
Project Title: IR-LAMP: Optigenetic Technology to Spatially Manipulate Protein Function In Vivo



Erin E. Carlson, Ph.D. Erin E. Carlson, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
Project Title: Targeted Natural Product Diversification to Identify Novel Antibacterial Agents


Erin E. Carlson is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Minnesota and is appointed as a Graduate Faculty member of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and the graduate program in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology. She received her B.A. at St. Olaf College and went on to graduate studies funded by the NIH Predoctoral Biotechnology Training Program at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 2005 under the direction of Professor Laura L. Kiessling. Subsequently, Dr. Carlson was awarded an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship for studies at The Scripps Research Institute with Professor Benjamin F. Cravatt. In 2007, Dr. Carlson received an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) and started her independent career at Indiana University (2008-2014). Her research program unites tools from chemistry and biology to promote the development of new strategies for treatment of bacterial infections and the discovery of efficacious compounds.



Edward Chang, Ph.D. Edward Chang, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Project Title: Functional Architecture of Human Speech Motor Cortex



John T. Chang, M.D. John T. Chang, M.D.
University of California, San Diego
Project Title: Understanding the Basis for Cellular Diversity During Adaptive Immunity



Michelle C. Chang, Ph.D. Michelle C. Chang, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Project Title: Discovery and Mechanistic Study of Fluorine Biochemistry



Wei Cheng, Ph.D. Wei Cheng, Ph.D.
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Project Title: Single Cell With One Particle Entry (SCOPE) For Study Of HIV Infection



Heather R. Christofk, Ph.D. Heather R. Christofk, Ph.D.
David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
Project Title: Regulation of the Warburg Effect in Cancer



Hunter B. Fraser, Ph.D. Hunter B. Fraser, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Systematic Functional Annotation of Human Cis-Regulatory Genetic Variation



Charles A. Gersbach, Ph.D. Charles A. Gersbach, Ph.D.
Duke University
Project Title: Engineering Morphogenetic Factors for Enhanced Genetic Reprogramming


Dr. Charles A. Gersbach is an Associate Professor at Duke University in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, an Investigator in the Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, and Director of the Duke Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering. He received his Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology and completed postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute. His research interests are in genome and epigenome editing, gene therapy, regenerative medicine, biomolecular and cellular engineering, synthetic biology, optogenetics, and genomics. Dr. Gersbach’s laboratory at Duke University is focused on applying molecular and cellular engineering to develop new methods to genetically modify genome sequences and cellular gene networks in a precise and targeted manner. Dr. Gersbach’s work has been recognized through awards including the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the NSF CAREER Award, and the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.



Aron M. Geurts, M.D., Ph.D. Aron M. Geurts, M.D., Ph.D.
Medical College of Wisconsin
Project Title: Advanced Genetic Engineering Technology Development



Nathan C. Gianneschi, Ph.D. Nathan C. Gianneschi, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
Project Title: Programming Pharmacokinetics In Vivo via In Situ Switching of Nanoscale Particle


Nathan C. Gianneschi received his B.Sc.(Hons) at the University of Adelaide in 1999. In 2005, he completed his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Following a Dow Chemical postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute in 2008, he became a professor at the University of California, San Diego. The Gianneschi group takes an interdisciplinary approach to nanomaterials research with a focus on multifunctional materials with interests that include biomedical applications, programmed interactions with biomolecules and cells, and basic research into nanoscale materials design, synthesis and characterization. For this work he has been awarded the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award and the White House's highest honor for young scientists and engineers with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Prof. Gianneschi was awarded a Drefus Foundation Fellowship, is a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, and is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow.



Lea Goentoro, Ph.D. Lea Goentoro, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
Project Title: Relative Perception in Wnt Signaling



Ming C. Hammond, Ph.D. Ming C. Hammond, Ph.D.
University Of California Berkeley
Project Title: A Chemical Biology Approach to Tagging RNAs in Live Cells



Songi Han, Ph.D. Songi Han, Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Project Title: Probing Early Protein Aggregation Mechanisms and Their Relationship to Disease Effects



Bo Huang, Ph.D. Bo Huang, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Project Title: Solving Macromolecular Complex Architecture In Situ by Super-Resolution Microscopy


Bo Huang received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Peking University, China, in 2001, and Ph.D. degree in Chemistry at Stanford University in 2006. After finishing postdoc work at Harvard University in 2009, he joined UCSF as an Assistant Professor of in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, joint with the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. His research work encompasses the areas of single molecule biophysics, microscopy, and cell biology. Being a pioneer in developing the super-resolution microscopy technique of STORM, he is currently interested in developing imaging new techniques for the study of genome organization, protein complexes and membrane receptors.



Christopher Hug, M.D., Ph.D. Christopher Hug, M.D., Ph.D.
Children’s Hospital Boston / Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Macrophage Integrated and Targeted Yeast Therapeutics



Hongrui Jiang, Ph.D. Hongrui Jiang, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Project Title: Accomodative Contact Lens for Presbyopic Correction



Sundeep Kalantry, Ph.D. Sundeep Kalantry, Ph.D.
University of Michigan Medical School
Project Title: Initiation of Epigenetic Transcriptional Regulation


Sundeep Kalantry is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School. He received his Ph.D. from Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University and performed a post-doctorate fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill with Terry Magnuson. Dr. Kalantry’s laboratory studies X-inactivation as well as other epigenetic processes that characterize the early embryo using mouse models. Dr. Kalantry is the recipient of an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2), an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, and a March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award.



Andrea M. Kasko, Ph.D. Andrea M. Kasko, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Project Title: Phototunable Biomaterials to Engineer Complex 3D Cell Microenvironments



Megan C. King, Ph.D. Megan C. King, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
Project Title: The Role of Nuclear Architecture in Adaptation



Steven T. Kosak, Ph.D. Steven T. Kosak, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Project Title: Self-Organization of the Human Genome



Gyanu Lamichhane, Ph.D. Gyanu Lamichhane, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University
Project Title: New Drug for Treatment of Chronic Bacterial Infection



Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D. Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D.
Duke University School of Medicine
Project Title: Pharmacology and Biophysics of the Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Nav 1.7



Shaun W. Lee, Ph.D. Shaun W. Lee, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame
Project Title: Design and Use of Novel Bacteriocins



Erez Lieberman Aiden Ph.D. Erez Lieberman Aiden Ph.D.
Harvard University / Broad Institute
Project Title: Exploring How the Genome Folds Through Proximity Ligation and Sequencing



Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D

Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project Title: High-Throughput Nanoscale Approaches to Studying and Inhibiting Amyloid Toxicity


Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor leading the Synthetic Biology Group in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. He is a core member of the MIT Synthetic Biology Center and a co-founder of Sample6 Inc., Synlogic Inc., Eligo Biosciences, and Engine Biosciences. Tim’s research at MIT focuses on engineering computing and memory circuits in living cells, applying synthetic biology to tackle important medical and industrial problems, and building living biomaterials that integrate biotic and abiotic functionalities. He is a recipient of the NIH New Innovator Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator Award, and the Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award, among others.



Emanual M. Maverakis, M.D. Emanual M. Maverakis, M.D.
University of California, Davis / VA Northern California Health Care System
Project Title: Investigation and Development of New Therapeutic Avenues for Scleroderma



Douglas A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Douglas A. Mitchell, Ph.D.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Project Title: A Common Denominator of Pathogenesis; a Rare Opportunity for Novel Therapeutic De


Professor Mitchell received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002. After a short internship in medicinal chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. For postdoctoral studies, he worked with Jack Dixon at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Mitchell joined the University of Illinois faculty in 2009 and has research interests that span the interface of chemistry and biology. View his Twitter page Exit Disclaimer



Harald C. Ott, M.D., Ph.D. Harald C. Ott, M.D., Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Project Title: Organ Engineering Based on Perfusion Decellularized Matrix



Timothy P. Padera, Ph.D.

Timothy P. Padera, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Project Title: Characterizing Lymphatic Micrometastases: Prognostic and Therapeutic Implications


Dr. Padera earned Bachelor of Science degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University in 1997. He then received his PhD from MIT in 2003 in Medical Engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology under the supervision of Rakesh K. Jain. He is currently Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a Member of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Faculty. Dr. Padera is recognized as a leader in the field of intravital functional lymphatic imaging, particularly with respect to tumor growth, lymphatic metastasis and lymphatic vessel pumping. He has published seminal papers looking at the role of functional peritumor lymphatic vessels in tumor dissemination (Science 2002), the source of lymphatic dysfunction in tumors (Nature 2004) and the lack of angiogenesis in the growth of lymph node metastases (JNCI 2015). His New Innovator Award focuses on the role the lymph node microenvironment plays in protecting cancer cells from therapy and inhibiting anti-cancer immunity.



Brian M. Paegel, Ph.D. Brian M. Paegel, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute
Project Title: Evolving and Engineering New Protease Tools for Mass Spectrometry Proteomics



Michael Petrascheck, Ph.D Michael Petrascheck, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute
Project Title: Modulation of Sensory Perception to Treat Age Related Disease



Christine Queitsch, Ph.D. Christine Queitsch, Ph.D.
University of Washington, Seattle
Project Title: Does Organismal Robustness Explain the Missing Heritability in Complex Diseases?



Arjun Raj, Ph.D. Arjun Raj, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Project Title: A Comprehensive Spatial Picture of Transcription in the Nucleus



Christian D. Schlieker, Ph.D. Christian D. Schlieker, Ph.D.
Yale University
Project Title: Deciphering Novel Protein Quality Control Pathways in the Nuclear Periphery



David M. Tobin, Ph.D. David M. Tobin, Ph.D.
Duke University
Project Title: Modulating Eicosanoids to Treat Tuberculosis: Personalized, Host-Directed Therapy



C. Jason Wang, M.D., Ph.D. C. Jason Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
Stanford University
Project Title: Healthy Ideas Exchange



Douglas B. Weibel, Ph.D. Douglas B. Weibel, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Project Title: Revisiting the Bacterial Cell Wall as a Target for New Antibiotics



Rebecca A. Wingert, Ph.D. Rebecca A. Wingert, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame
Project Title: Identification of Kidney Regeneration Mechanisms Using the Zebrafish



Joy Y. Wu, M.D., Ph.D. Joy Y. Wu, M.D., Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Project Title: In Vivo Reconstitution of the Hematopoietic Niche



Joao Xavier, Ph.D.

Joao Xavier, Ph.D.
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Project Title: Engineering Microbial Social Interactions: Towards New Anti-Biofilm Therapies


Joao Xavier is a faculty member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where he applies a combination of experiment and theory to investigate cell-cell interactions. Originally trained as a chemical engineer (IST Lisbon, 1998), Joao was fascinated by the emergence properties of biological systems and decided to pursue biofilm biology for his PhD (New University of Lisbon, 2003). After a first postdoc in biochemical engineering (Delft University of Technology, 2003-2005) he turned his attention to fundamental problems in evolutionary biology in a second postdoc with Kevin Foster at Harvard (2006-2009) to investigate the evolution of cooperation among bacteria. He started his lab at Sloan-Kettering in December 2009 and has since expanded his interests beyond biofilms to investigate other systems of medical relevance: the gut microbiota and cancer.



Qi Zhang, Ph.D. Qi Zhang, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University
Project Title: Explore Fundamental Aspects of Neurotransmission with Multifunctional Nanosensor



Haining Zhong, Ph.D. Haining Zhong, Ph.D.
Oregon Health and Science University
Project Title: Examining the Architecture of Synapses in Brain Tissue at Nanometer Resolution


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