2007 Pioneer Award Recipients
Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D.
Boston College/Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital
Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory at Boston College, with additional appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Waterloo in 1992. Barrett’s interdisciplinary research addresses the nature of emotion by integrating neuroscience, social psychology, psychophysiology, and cognitive science. Her work challenges the prevailing wisdom that emotions are hard-wired into the brain, theorizing that they are instead generated from more basic affective and conceptual components. Barrett is using her Pioneer Award to study how the brain creates the experiences that people refer to as “anger,” “sadness,” “fear,” and “happiness.” Her honors include the Career Trajectory Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Cattell Fund and the Association for Psychological Science.
Peter Bearman, Ph.D.
Peter Bearman, Ph.D., is the Jonathan Cole Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. He also directs the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy and co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program at the university. Bearman received a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University in 1985. His work centers on understanding how social network dynamics shape diverse adolescent health outcomes. Bearman co-designed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and has studied the structure of sexual networks and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, peer influence and sexual behavior, friendship structure and suicidality, and the determinants of school achievement. His work on sexual networks has been featured in popular magazines, including Time, Harper’s, andDiscover. Bearman is using his Pioneer Award to understand the role of social and environmental factors in autism. His honors include the Roger V. Gould Prize from the American Journal of Sociology and an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital/Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., is the Massachusetts General Hospital Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and a professor of computational neuroscience and health sciences and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard University in 1988. Brown is an anesthesiologist-statistician whose research develops signal processing algorithms to characterize how the patterns of electrical discharges from neurons in the brain represent information from the outside world. With his Pioneer Award, he is using a systems neuroscience approach to study how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia. Brown is an elected member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists, a fellow of the American Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and a fellow of the American Statistical Association.
Thomas R. Clandinin, Ph.D.
Thomas R. Clandinin, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of neurobiology at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1998. Clandinin is a biologist who combines genetic approaches with analytical techniques adapted from systems neuroscience to determine how neural circuits process visual information. He is using his Pioneer Award to define the links between behavioral decisions and specific neurons, with the goal of achieving an integrated understanding of neural function that will fundamentally change our concept of how the brain computes. Clandinin’s honors include a career development award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Scholar Award from the McKnight Foundation.
James J. Collins, Ph.D.
James J. Collins, Ph.D., is a university professor, professor of biomedical engineering, and co-director of the Center for BioDynamics at Boston University. He received a Ph.D. in medical engineering from the University of Oxford in 1990. Collins is using his Pioneer Award to develop innovative systems biology and synthetic biology approaches to analyze the bacterial gene regulatory networks underlying cellular responses to antibiotics and the emergence of resistance. His honors include a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and selection byTechnology Review as one of its inaugural group of 100 top young innovators and by Scientific American as one of the 50 outstanding leaders in science and technology of 2005.
Margaret Gardel, Ph.D.
University of Chicago
Margaret Gardel, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Chicago and a member of the James Franck Institute and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics. She received a Ph.D. in soft condensed matter physics from Harvard University in 2004. Gardel is a biophysicist whose work has focused on the novel polymer physics of cytoskeletal networks reconstituted in vitro. She is the recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. With her Pioneer Award, Gardel is integrating approaches from condensed matter physics and molecular cell biology to establish tools and new frameworks for studying the physical behaviors of the cellular cytoskeleton. She is focusing on how this structure – which is composed of dynamic, multiprotein complexes that are far from thermal equilibrium – emerges from the properties of individual proteins.
Takao K. Hensch, Ph.D.
Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School
Takao K. Hensch, Ph.D., is a professor of neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, as well as a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1996. Hensch’s research focuses on critical periods in brain development. By applying cellular and molecular biology techniques to neural systems, he has identified inhibitory circuits that orchestrate the structural and functional rewiring of connections in response to early sensory experience. He is using his Pioneer Award to explore the role of noncoding RNAs in brain development and as a potential treatment for devastating brain disorders in adulthood. Hensch’s awards include a Fulbright Fellowship; Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Prize; the Japanese Tsukahara Award for young investigators; and the first Young Investigator Award given to a foreign scientist by the U.S. Society for Neuroscience.
Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Washington School of Medicine
Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of medicine, pathology, and genome sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where he graduated with M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1990. Early in his career, he carried out innovative research on the evolution of randomly mutated DNA. More recently, his laboratory has identified genes and molecular mechanisms causing bone marrow failure and cancers of the blood. Horwitz is using his Pioneer Award to chart cell lineages by tracking mutations, in order to better understand how stem cells contribute to development and cancer. His prior honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; clinical research scholar awards from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; and the University of Washington’s Fialkow Scholar Award for outstanding research, teaching, clinical work, and academic citizenship.
Rustem F. Ismagilov, Ph.D.
University of Chicago
Rustem F. Ismagilov, Ph.D., is a professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago. He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ismagilov develops microfluidic technology to manipulate and understand complex biological systems at the organismal, network, and molecular levels. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop droplet-based microfluidic technologies for quantitative studies of protein aggregation diseases and aging at both the molecular and organismal levels. Ismagilov’s honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Searle Scholar Award.
Frances E. Jensen, M.D.
Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School
Frances E. Jensen, M.D., is a professor of neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, where she is also director of epilepsy research. She received an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1983. Jensen has identified unique mechanisms involved in seizure activity and injury in the developing brain, leading to new candidate therapies in development for clinical trials in newborns. She is using her Pioneer Award to examine how seizures in early life alter neuronal networks in the developing brain to cause cognitive disorders such as learning deficits, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and autism. Jensen is the 2007 chair of the Society for Neuroscience program committee and the past chair of the American Epilepsy Society Council on Education.
Mark J. Schnitzer, Ph.D.
Mark J. Schnitzer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biological sciences and applied physics at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1999. Schnitzer's goal is to understand the large-scale dynamics of neural circuits. Toward this end, his lab has invented a number of minimally invasive brain-imaging techniques based on fiber-optics and has been investigating mammalian neural circuits underlying locomotor coordination using a multidisciplinary approach that combines imaging, behavioral, anatomical, and computational studies. With his Pioneer Award, Schnitzer is pursuing an understanding of neural dynamics in the fruit fly, with a focus on neural circuits involved in sensorimotor decision-making. His multidisciplinary approach makes use of new technology for automated, laser-based tissue dissection and brain imaging in large numbers of flies, allowing him to perform innovative analyses of the biological basis for decision-making. Schnitzer's honors include fellowships from the Beckman, Klingenstein, Sloan, and Packard foundations and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Gina Turrigiano, Ph.D.
Gina Turrigiano, Ph.D., is a professor of biology at Brandeis University. She received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, in 1990. She studies how experience rewires neural circuits within the brain’s cortex, with a particular focus on synaptic changes that stabilize circuit activity. Turrigiano is using her Pioneer Award to develop a super-resolution cryo-microscopic method for probing the structure of the synapse, which is one of the most complex molecular machines. This method will make it possible to determine how synapses are impaired by neurodevelopmental and neurological diseases. Turrigiano’s honors include a Sloan Research Fellowship, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and a McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award.