NIH Director's Pioneer Award Recipients
Hongjie Dai, Ph.D.Stanford University
Project Title: Human Infrared Vision at Molecular and Cellular Scale
Grant ID: DP1-NS-105737
Hongjie Dai is the J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Physics from Tsinghua University, a master’s degree in Applied Sciences from Columbia University, a Ph.D in Applied Physics/Physical Chemistry from Harvard University and performed postdoctoral research with Richard Smalley at Rice University. Dai works at the interface of chemistry, materials sciences, and biomedical sciences, with a strong interest in advancing nanoscience based infrared vision for biological imaging and detection to address fundamental and practical problems in neuroscience, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Dai’s previous work on carbon based nanosciences were recognized by election to member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the American Physical Society James McGroddy Prize for New Materials, the American Chemical Society Pure Chemistry Award and the Materials Research Society Mid-Career Researcher Award.
Amit Etkin, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University
Project Title: A “Circuits-First” Platform for Personalized Neurostimulation Treatment
Grant ID: DP1-MH-116506
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health
Amit Etkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, and an Investigator at the Palo Alto VA. He is trained as both as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist. The overarching aim of the Etkin lab is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to better understand how the brain works and to develop novel treatment interventions. In support of this goal, Dr. Etkin also collaborates with neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicians and others to establish a new intellectual, scientific and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits in healthy individuals and for treating psychiatric disease.
Howard A. Fine, M.D.Weill Cornell Medicine
Project Title: Human Brain Cancer, Rather than Brain Cancer Cells, on a Plate
Grant ID: DP1-CA-228040
Howard A. Fine, M.D. is the Feil Professor of Medicine, Director of the Brain Tumor Center and Associate Director of Translational Research at the Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Fine’s 29-year career has been devoted almost exclusively to translational research and developmental therapeutics for glioblastoma. His laboratory was one of the first to isolate and propagate primary patient-derived glioma stem cells in vitro, with his most recent work devoted to modeling in vitro patient specific glioblastoma's using patient induced pluripotent cell-derived cerebral organoids and glioma stem cells. Dr. Fine trained in internal medicine at the Hospital the University of Pennsylvania and then completed a clinical and research fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fine was one of the founders and Director of the DFCI Neuro-Oncology Disease Center and was the founder and Chief of the Neuro-Oncology Branch at the National Institutes of Health before coming to Weil Cornell.
Charles M. Lieber, Ph.D.Harvard University
Project Title: Syringe-Injectable Mesh Electronics for Seamless Integration with the Central Nervous System
Grant ID: DP1-EB-025835
Charles Lieber is the Joshua and Beth Friedman University Professor at Harvard University and Chair of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College and his doctorate in chemistry from Stanford University, and carried out postdoctoral studies with Harry Gray at California Institute of Technology. At Harvard, Lieber has pioneered the rational synthesis, hierarchical assembly and fundamental physical properties of nanoscale wires, as well as the field of nano-bioelectronics with a focus on ultra-sensitive detectors, novel tools for single cell measurements, and three-dimensional innervation of synthetic tissue and organs. More recently, Lieber has focused on development of a new syringe-injectable electronics paradigm for long-term mapping and modulation of neural activity in live animals, and as electronic implants for the treatment of disease. His work has been recognized by honors that include the MRS Von Hippel Award and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry.
Jeffrey D. Macklis, M.D., HSTHarvard University
Project Title: Subcellular RNA-Proteome Mapping in Subtype- and Circuit-Specific Growth Cones: Development, Cell Biology,
Disease, and Regeneration
Grant ID: DP1-NS-106665
Jeffrey Macklis is the Max and Anne Wien Professor of Life Sciences, and Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University; Professor of Neurology and of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School; and an affiliate M.I.T. faculty member in the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). His lab is directed toward both: 1) understanding molecular controls and mechanisms of neuron subtype specification, development, diversity, axon guidance- circuit formation, and degeneration in the cerebral cortex; and 2) applying developmental controls toward both brain-spinal cord regeneration and directed differentiation for in vitro therapeutic and mechanistic modeling. The lab focuses on neocortical projection neuron development and subtype diversity; neural progenitor biology; induction of adult cortical neurogenesis; subtype- specific axonal growth cone molecular machinery; and directed neuronal subtype differentiation via molecular manipulation of neural progenitors and pluripotent stem cells (ES/iPS). He attended M.I.T. (S.B. Bioelectrical Engineering; S.B. Literature), Harvard Medical School (Harvard-M.I.T. HST Program), graduate school at M.I.T. within HST, completing his thesis with Richard L. Sidman, then was a postdoctoral fellow in developmental neuroscience at HMS, where he also completed clinical medicine-neurology residency. Awards include a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award, a Director’s Innovation Award from the NIH Director’s Office, the CNS Foundation Award, a Senator Jacob Javits MERIT Award in the Neurosciences from NINDS/NIH, the Cajal-Krieg Cortical Discoverer Prize, and he is both a Brain Research Foundation Fellow and an Allen Distinguished Investigator of the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group.
Luciano A. Marraffini, Ph.D.The Rockefeller University
Project Title: Generation of Immunological Memory by CRISPR-Cas Systems
Grant ID: DP1-GM-128184
Dr. Marraffini received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rosario in Argentina in 1998 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2007, studying bacterial pathogenesis in the laboratory of Dr. Olaf Schneewind. He was a postdoc at Northwestern University from 2008 to 2010 with Dr. Erik Sontheimer, where he pioneered studies on CRISPR-Cas immunity. Dr. Marraffini determined that that CRISPR-Cas systems target DNA molecules in a sequence-specific manner, a study that was key to understand the mechanisms of CRISPR immunity at the molecular level. In 2010 he joined the faculty of The Rockefeller University, where he continued studies on the basic biology of the CRISPR-Cas immune response. For more information about Dr. Marraffini please visit http://marraffini.rockefeller.edu.
Alex Schier, Ph.D.Harvard University
Project Title: DNA-Mediated Recording of Cellular History
Grant ID: DP1-HD-094764
Alex Schier is the Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. After receiving his B.S. and Ph.D. from the Biozentrum in Basel, Switzerland, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and MGH, and an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Skirball Institute of NYU Medical Center. Schier’s lab has contributed to the understanding of the molecular basis of vertebrate embryogenesis and the neural circuits regulating behavior, and to the development of zebrafish as a model system. Members of his lab have gone on to PI positions at leading institutions, including Princeton, Caltech, Yale, and Cambridge.
Ramin Shiekhattar, Ph.D.Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami
Project Title: Enhancer RNA Therapy
Grant ID: DP1-CA-228041
Ramin Shiekhattar is the Director of Cancer Epigenetics Program, Chief of Division of Cancer Genomics & Epigenetics and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His laboratory has made a number of seminal discoveries identifying and characterizing important mediators of epigenetic regulation and noncoding RNA processing that contribute to cancer development. Currently, the laboratory is exploring a class of long noncoding RNAs that arise from enhancer elements and behave similar to transcriptional enhancers. Importantly, the laboratory has pinpointed the RNA polymerase II-associated multiprotein complex, Integrator, as a critical component of the biogenesis machinery for these enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). The laboratory is interested in deciphering the function of Integrator and eRNAs in the context of relevant models of development and disease, using state of the arts genomics and proteomics approaches.
David A. Sinclair, Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Uncovering the Human Secretome
Grant ID: DP1-AG-058605
David A. Sinclair, Ph.D. is a tenured Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, co- Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard Medical School, and a conjoint Professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He is best known for his work on understanding the molecular basis of aging, and for genes and molecules that can slow the process. After postdoctoral work at M.I.T. with Lenny Guarente in the mid-late 1990’s, he moved to Harvard and shortly thereafter became founding Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Aging Research, a group that has grown into a consortium of 11 universities. He is a co-inventor on more than 40 patents and has co-founded biotechnology companies in the areas of aging, vaccines, fertility, diabetes, cancer, infectious disease diagnosis, and forensics. He is a cofounder and serves as co-chief editor of the scientific journal Aging and has received more than 30 awards including a Harvard Excellence in Teaching Award, an Australian Research Medal, an NIH MERIT award, and TIME magazine’s list of the “100 most influential people in the world”.
Justin L. Sonnenburg, Ph.D.Stanford University School of Medicine
Project Title: Defining and Reconstructing the Human Ancestral Microbiome
Grant ID: DP1-AT-009892
Funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he studies the gut microbiota in health and disease and co-directs the Center for Human Microbiome Studies. He and his wife Erica, are the authors of the book The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health. An ongoing objective of their research program is to devise and implement innovative strategies to prevent and treat disease in humans via the gut microbiota. Justin conducted his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego in the laboratory of Ajit Varki; his postdoctoral work was conducted at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri in the laboratory of Jeffrey Gordon. He has received an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award, and he is a co-founder of Novome Biotechnologies.
Kay M. Tye, Ph.D.Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project Title: Neural Circuit Mechanisms of Social Homeostasis in Individuals and Supraorganismal Social Groups
Grant ID: DP1-AT-009925
Funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Kay M. Tye graduated from MIT in 2003 with a bachelor's degree majoring in Brain & Cognitive Sciences. She entered graduate school for neuroscience at UCSF in 2004, working the in the laboratory of Patricia Janak performing electrophysiological recordings during reward-related tasks, and received her PhD in 2008. Then, in collaboration with Antonello Bonci, she identified the critical role of synaptic plasticity in the amygdala during reward-related learning. In 2009, she received her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Karl Deisseroth at Stanford, and returned to MIT as a faculty member in 2012. Her research program has been focused on dissecting the neural circuits of emotion and motivation in rodent models.
Feng Zhang, Ph.D.Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; MIT
Project Title: Exploration of Diverse Mobile Genetic Elements for Precision Genome Manipulation
Grant ID: DP1-HL-141201
Dr. Zhang is a molecular biologist focused on developing tools to better understand brain function and treat neurological and psychiatric disorders. He played an integral role in the creation of two revolutionary tools, optogenetics and the CRISPR-Cas genome engineering system. Current research in the Zhang laboratory is centered on the development and application of the next generation of genome engineering tools to dissect the effects of genetic and epigenetic variation on the nervous system. Dr. Zhang is a core member of the Broad Institute, an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, an associate professor in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at MIT, and a New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator.
Project Title: Defining a Transcriptional Periodic Table of the Human Brain Using Reprogramming
Grant ID: DP1-AG-055944
Dr. Kristin Baldwin is an Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology at the Scripps Research Institute, an adjunct Associate Professor of Neuroscience at UCSD and an Investigator of the Dorris Neuroscience Institute. She received undergraduate degrees in Economics and Zoology from Duke University, earned a doctorate in Immunology at Stanford University and performed postdoctoral studies in Neurobiology working with Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University. Her research has harnessed technologies such as cloning, reprogramming by transcription factors, genome editing and genomics to explore how the genome builds complex self assembling systems – ranging from blood to the brain to an entire mouse. As technology has advanced, research in the Baldwin lab is increasingly focused on pairing human genomics with reprogramming to understand uniquely human aspects of developmental biology and disease. Her work has been previously recognized by honors such as the Kavli Fellow and Pew Scholars awards.
Bradley Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D.Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute
Project Title: Epigenetic Plasticity in Tumor Initiation and Evolution
Grant ID: DP1-CA-216873
Funded by the National Cancer Institute & Office of the Director
Bradley Bernstein is the Bernard and Mildred Kayden Research Institute Chair and Professor of Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital, a Broad Institute Member, and an American Cancer Society Research Professor. Bernstein’s research focuses on epigenetics — changes in gene activity governed by influences outside the genes themselves — and specifically how modifications to the protein scaffold called chromatin contribute to mammalian development and human cancer. Bernstein received his B.S. from Yale University and his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington, before completing a clinical pathology residency and postdoctoral research at Harvard University. Honors include the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, an Early Career Scientist award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Michael Fischbach, Ph.D.University of California, San Francisco
Project Title: A Complete Map of the Top 100 Molecules from the Gut Microbiome
Grant ID: DP1-DK-113598
Michael Fischbach is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF and a member of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). Fischbach is a recipient of the NIH Director's Pioneer and New Innovator Awards, an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholars Award, a Fellowship for Science and Engineering from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, a Medical Research Award from the W.M. Keck Foundation, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award, a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and the Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research from the Global Probiotics Council. His laboratory uses a combination of genomics and chemistry to identify and characterize small molecules from microbes, with an emphasis on the human microbiome. Fischbach received his Ph.D. as a John and Fannie Hertz Foundation Fellow in chemistry from Harvard in 2007, where he studied the role of iron acquisition in bacterial pathogenesis and the biosynthesis of antibiotics; before coming to UCSF, he spent two years as an independent fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital coordinating a collaborative effort based at the Broad Institute to develop genomics-based approaches to the discovery of small molecules from microbes. Fischbach is a member of the board of directors of Achaogen, the scientific advisory boards of NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Indigo Agriculture, and Cell Design Labs, and is a co-founder of Revolution Medicines.
Uri Hasson, Ph.D.Princeton University
Project Title: Speaker-Listener Coupling: A Novel Neural Approach for Assessing Communication
Grant ID: DP1-HD-091948
Uri Hasson grew up in Jerusalem. As an undergrad he studied philosophy and cognitive sciences at the Hebrew University. He completed his Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU before moving to Princeton. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department and the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. His research program aims to understand how the brain processes real-life complex information and interacts with the environment; with a focus on integration of complex information over time and the interaction between two individuals and two brains during natural communication.
Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D.The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Project Title: Generation of Functional Human Organs and Tissues Using Interspecific Blastocyst Complementation
Grant ID: DP1-DK-113616
Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D., a Professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, graduated from the University of Valencia, Spain, with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and science, and he earned a master’s degree in pharmacology from the same university before completing his Ph.D. in biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of Bologna, Italy, and the University of Valencia. He then was a postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and the University of California, Los Angeles, prior to moving to the Salk Institute in 1993 where he has been since. From 2005-14 he was also director of the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona. His research interests are focused on the understanding of stem cell biology, organogenesis and regeneration. Observations reported by his team are helping elucidating the cellular and molecular basis of tissue/organ differentiation, homeostasis and regeneration.
Nancy Kanwisher, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project Title: How Does the Functional Organization of the Human Brain Arise in Development?
Grant ID: DP1-HD-091947
Nancy Kanwisher received her B.S. and Ph.D. from MIT, working with Professor Molly Potter. After a postdoc as a MacArthur Fellow in Peace and International Security, and a second postdoc in the lab of Anne Treisman at UC Berkeley, she held faculty positions at UCLA and then Harvard, before returning to MIT in 1997, where she is now an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, a faculty member in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, and a member of the Center for Minds, Brains, and Machines. Kanwisher’s work uses brain imaging to discover the functional organization of the human brain as a window into the architecture of the mind. Kanwisher has received the Troland Award, the Golden Brain Award, and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow teaching Award from MIT, and she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. You can view her short lectures about human cognitive neuroscience for lay audiences at http://nancysbraintalks.mit.edu/.
Stephen D. Liberles, Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Sensory Receptors of the Vagus Nerve
Grant ID: DP1-AT-009497
Dr. Liberles is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, where he studies the molecular neuroscience of sensory systems. His work has helped unravel the molecular logic of smell, taste, and internal senses of the vagus nerve- from mechanisms of stimulus detection in the periphery to the orchestration of behavioral and physiological responses. He received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Harvard in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard in 1999, working in the lab of Stuart Schreiber. As a post-doctoral fellow with Linda Buck at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Liberles discovered two non-classical families of olfactory receptors, and after joining the Harvard faculty in 2007, his lab made contributions towards understanding how the mouse olfactory system controls complex behaviors, such as odor aversion, attraction, and pheromone responses. Dr. Liberles currently researches how the vagus nerve senses internal organ stimuli and controls autonomic physiology.
Christine Mayr, M.D., Ph.D.Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Project Title: 3'UTR-Mediated Protein-Protein Interactions Determine Protein Functions
Grant ID: DP1-GM-123454
Christine Mayr is an Associate Member of Sloan-Kettering Institute. She received her M.D. from Free University in Berlin and her Ph.D. in Immunology from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. During her time as a postdoc in the laboratory of David Bartel at the Whitehead Institute at MIT, she became interested in 3'UTR-mediated gene regulation. In her own lab, her research has focused on the role and regulation of alternative 3'UTRs. Her lab recently discovered that 3'UTRs can mediate protein-protein interactions of newly translated proteins. As a consequence, alternative 3'UTRs enable the formation of alternative protein complexes.
Joshua D. Rabinowitz, M.D., Ph.D.Princeton University
Project Title: Metabolism in Action: Quantitative Fluxes in Mammals
Grant ID: DP1-DK-113643
Joshua Rabinowitz earned B.A. degrees in Mathematics and Chemistry from the University of North Carolina, and his M.D./Ph.D. at Stanford University working jointly between physical chemist Harden McConnell and immunologist Mark Davis. Thereafter, he co-founded Alexza Pharmaceuticals, eventually resulting in FDA approval of Adasuve, an inhaled medicine for acute agitation. In 2004, Joshua joined the faculty of Princeton University, where his research has focused on comprehensive understanding of metabolism, initially in microorganisms, and more recently in cancer cells, tumors, and intact animals. He is currently working to understand, at a quantitative and chemical level, the interplay between diet, metabolism, and disease.
Meng Wang, Ph.D.Baylor College of Medicine
Project Title: Decode the Chemical Language that Orchestrates Cellular and Organismal Homeostasis
Grant ID: DP1-DK-113644
Dr. Meng Wang graduated from Peking University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2001, and then received her Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Genetics from University of Rochester in 2005. After her postdoctoral training with Professor Gary Ruvkun at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wang became an Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in 2010. Her lab harnesses the power of chemical imaging, functional genomics and metabolomics to investigate signaling metabolites, their regulatory network and impacts on metabolic fitness, reproductive health and longevity.
Sing Sing Way, M.D., Ph.D.Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Project Title: Immunological Identity Redefined by Genetically Foreign Microchimeric Cells
Grant ID: DP1-AI-131080
Sing Sing Way is an infectious disease pediatrician who cares for infants and children with the most serious consequences of communicable disease. He received combined MD-PhD training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and later mentored by Dr. Christopher B. Wilson during post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington and Dr. Marc Jenkins at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Way’s research investigates the immunological mechanisms responsible for shifts in infection susceptibility throughout development with the goal of more effective therapeutic and preventative strategies. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and past recipient of the Society for Pediatric Research E. Mead Johnson award and Gale and Ira Drukier prize in children’s health research. Along with the NIH Director’s Pioneer award, Dr. Way's research is supported by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, March of Dimes Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholars Program.
Seok-Hyun "Andy" Yun, Ph.D.Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Massive Wavelength-Division Multiplexing and Imaging with Laser Particles
Grant ID: DP1-EB-024242
Dr. Yun received his B.S. (1991), M.S. (1993), and Ph.D. (1997) in Physics from KAIST in Korea. His dissertation research in fiber optics led to a venture-funded startup in San Jose, CA, where he worked as a founding member and manager. He joined the Wellman Center for Photomedicine (Dermatology) and Harvard Medical School in 2003, and is currently an Associate Professor, MGH Research Scholar, and the Director of the Harvard-MIT Summer Institute for Biomedical Optics. His research spans a wide spectrum from satisfying intellectual curiosity to solving real-world problems, through the integration of light and life sciences.
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.
Jayakrishna Ambati, M.D.University of Kentucky
Project Title: Form and Function of Our Janus Faced Genome
Grant ID: DP1-GM-114862
Chenghua Gu, D.V.M., Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Project Title: New Tools for Understanding the Blood Brain Barrier
Grant ID: DP1-NS-092473
Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.University of Connecticut
Project Title: Regenerative Engineering of Complex Musculoskeletal Tissues and Joints
Grant ID: DP1-AR-068147
Denise J. Montell, Ph.D.University of California Santa Barbara
Project Title: Anastasis, a New Mechanism Driving Cell Survival and Evolution
Grant ID: DP1-CA-195760
Carl D. Novina, M.D., Ph.D.Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Project Title: Engineering Epigenetic Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease
Grant ID: DP1-DK-105602
Amy Palmer, Ph.D.University of Colorado
Project Title: Regulation of Cell Signaling by Transition Metal Dynamics
Grant ID: DP1-GM-114863
Dana Pe'er, Ph.D.Columbia University
Project Title: Single Cell Mapping of Developmental Trajectories Underlying Health and Disease
Grant ID: DP1-HD-084071
Oliver Rando, M.D., Ph.D.University of Massachusetts Medical School
Project Title: tRNA Fragments as Transgenerational Information Carriers
Grant ID: DP1-ES-025458
Donna L. Spiegelman, Sc.D.Harvard School of Public Health
Project Title: Comprehensive Translational Science Analytics Tools for the Global Health Agenda
Grant ID: DP1-ES-025459
Sean Wu, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University
Project Title: Enabling Technologies for Human-Machine Hybrid Tissues
Grant ID: DP1-LM-012179
Amy F.T. Arnsten, Ph.D.Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
Project Title: Highly Evolved Brain Circuits in Primates: Molecular Vulnerabilities for Disease
Grant ID: DP1-AG-047744
Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project Title: Millisecond-Timescale Whole-Brain Neural Activity Mapping in Health and Disease
Grant ID: DP1-NS-087724
Vadim N. Gladyshev, Ph.D.Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, MA
Project Title: Mechanisms of Lifespan Control
Grant ID: DP1-AG-047745
Baljit S. Khakh, Ph.D.University of California Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine
Project Title: Astrocyte Branchlet Dysfunction as an Early Step in Brain Disorders
Grant ID: DP1-MH-104069
Michael Z. Lin, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
Project Title: Optogenetics for All: A General Method for Optical Control of Protein Activity
Grant ID: DP1-GM-111003
Jay Ashok Shendure, M.D., Ph.D.University of Washington, Seattle
Project Title: Interpreting Genetic Variants of Uncertain Significance
Grant ID: DP1-HG-007811
Natalia A. Trayanova, Ph.D.The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
Project Title: Virtual Electrophysiology Laboratory
Grant ID: DP1-HL-123271
Fan Wang, Ph.D.Duke University Medical Center
Project Title: Toward Causal Neuroscience: Capture and Manipulate Emergent Neuronal Ensembles
Grant ID: DP1-MH-103908
Leor S Weinberger, Ph.D.Gladstone Institutes and University of California, San Francisco, CA
Project Title: Evolvable Resistance-Proof Therapies
Grant ID: DP1-DE-024408
Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, Ph.D.Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Project Title: Probing Dynamics of The Human Genome by Single Cell Sequencing
Grant ID: DP1-CA-186693
Rafael M Yuste, M.D., Ph.D.Columbia University
Project Title: Functional Connectomics of the Neocortical Microcircuit
Grant ID: DP1-EY-024503
Mark J Zylka, Ph.D.University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Project Title: The Elongation Hypothesis of Autism
Grant ID: DP1-ES-024088
Anne Brunet, Ph.D.Stanford University, CA
Project Title: Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance of Longevity
Grant ID: DP1-AG-044848
Edward M Marcotte, Ph.D.University of Texas Austin, TX
Project Title: Next-Generation Proteomics: Massively Parallel Single-Molecule Protein Identification &
Grant ID: DP1-GM-106408
Hidde L. Ploegh, Ph.D.Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MA
Project Title: A New Strategy to Disrupt Protein-Protein Interactions in Eukaryotic Cell
Grant ID: DP1-GM-106409
Christina D. Smolke, Ph.D.Stanford University, CA
Project Title: Synthetic Biology Platforms for Natural Product Discovery and Biosynthesis
Grant ID: DP1-AT-007886
Yi Tang, Ph.D.University of California Los Angeles, CA
Project Title: Rediscovering Natural Chemical Diversity
Grant ID: DP1-GM-106413
Doris Ying Tsao, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology, CA
Project Title: Understanding the Circuit for Topological Object Tracking
Grant ID: DP1-NS-083063
Lihong Wang, Ph.D.Washington University in St. Louis, MO
Project Title: Photon Tunneling: Shedding New Light on Biomedicine
Grant ID: DP1-EB-016986
Ting (C.-ting) Wu, Ph.D.Harvard University (Medical School), MA
Project Title: The Inheritance of Position: It's Not Just Who You Are, It's Where You Are
Grant ID: DP1-GM-106412
Gary Yellen, Ph.D.Harvard University, MA
Project Title: Single Cell Analysis of Metabolism Using Genetically-
Encoded Fluorescent Sensors
Grant ID: DP1-EB-016985
Feng Zhang, Ph.D.Broad Institute, Inc., MA
Project Title: Probing Neuropsychiatric Diseases Using Targeted Epigenome and Genome Engineering
Grant ID: DP1-MH-100706
Utpal Banerjee, Ph.D.University of California, Los Angeles
Project Title: Developmental Control Of
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008356
Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D.University of Utah
Project Title: Cellular Double-Stranded
RNA as a Signal of Stress, Immunity, and Aging
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008174
Jean Bennett, Ph.D.University of Pennsylvania
Project Title: Broad Spectrum Molecular
Therapy for Blinding Retina Disorders
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008267
William M. Clemons, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Project Title: NIH Pioneer Award
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008304
Florian Engert, Ph.D.Harvard University
Project Title: Watching a Vertebrate Brain
Learn and Behave in a Virtual Environment
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008240
Andrew P. Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H.Johns Hopkins University
Project Title: A General Stochastic
Epigenetic Model for Evolution, Development, and Disease
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008324
James E.K. Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D.University of California, Davis
Project Title: Role of Natural
Pseudotyping with Other Viruses in HIV Transmission
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008243
Tao Pan, Ph.D.University of Chicago
Project Title: Mis-Translation as a New
Mechanism of Stress Response in Biology
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008169
Sharad Ramanathan, Ph.D.Harvard University
Project Title: A Road Map to the
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008197
David S. Schneider, Ph.D.Stanford University
Project Title: Mapping the Road to
Recovery - Does the Way We Get Better Differ from the Way We Get Sick
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008167
Thanos Siapas, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Project Title: Nanoprobe Arrays for
Massively Parallel 3-D Recordings of Brain Activity
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008255
Andreas S. Tolias, Ph.D.Baylor College of Medicine
Project Title: Dissecting the Fabric of
the Cerebral Cortex
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008301
Mehmet Fatih Yanik, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project Title: Generating Transplantable
Neurons by In Vivo Combinatorial Screening of Transcription Regulator RNAs
Grant ID: DP1-OD-008161
Carlos F. Barbas III, Ph.D.The Scripps Research Institute
Project Title: Chemically Programmed Immunity
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006990
Pamela J. Bjorkman, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Project Title: Thwarting HIV Evasion of Antibody Avidity with Novel Antibody Architectures
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006961
Valentin Dragoi, Ph.D.University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston
Project Title: Examining Population Coding Underlying Complex Behavior in Freely Moving Primates
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006929
Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D.Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Project Title: Expanding the Druggable Genome
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006933
Tamas L. Horvath, D.V.M., Ph.D.Yale University School of Medicine
Project Title: Hypothalamic AgRP Neurons Are Determinants of Healthy Lifespan and Higher Brain Functions
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006850
J. Keith Joung, M.D., Ph.D.Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Advancing Stem Cell Technologies Using Engineered Zinc Finger Proteins
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006862
David Kleinfeld, Ph.D.University of California, San Diego
Project Title: Defining the Logic of Neurovascular Signaling in the Brain
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006831
Haifan Lin, Ph.D.Yale University
Project Title: Toward a Central Question in Epigenetics: A Major Epigenetic Programming Mechanism Guided by piRNAs
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006825
Jun O. Liu, Ph.D.Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Project Title: Generation and Proteome-Wide Screening of Hybrid Combinatorial Libraries
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006795
Andres Villu Maricq, M.D., Ph.D.University of Utah
Project Title: Simultaneous In Vivo Studies of Synapses, Neurons, and Learning and Memory
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006975
Joseph H. Nadeau, Ph.D.The Institute for Systems Biology
Project Title: Lamarck Redux: Transgenerational Genetic Effects on Phenotypes and Disease
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006911
Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D.Duke University
Project Title: A Virtual Reality Simulator to Study VLSBA and Test Brain-Actuating Technologies
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006798
Lalita Ramakrishnan, M.D., Ph.D.University of Washington
Project Title: Linking the Behavior of Individual Host Cells to Their Transcriptional Signatures
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006782
Lorna W. Role, Ph.D.State University of New York at Stony Brook
Project Title: Unveiling the Role and Taking Control of Cholinergic Tone in Circuits of Attention, Memory, and Fear
Grant ID: DP1-OD-007014
Michael L. Roukes, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Project Title: Nanoscale Tools to Push Biomedical Frontiers
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006924
Ram Samudrala, Ph.D.University of Washington
Project Title: Novel Paradigms for Drug Discovery: Computational Multi-Target Screening
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006779
Bruce A. Yankner, M.D., Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Project Title: Modeling the Aging Epigenome
Grant ID: DP1-OD-006849
Ivor J. Benjamin, M.D.University of Utah School of Medicine
Ivor J. Benjamin, M.D., is a professor of medicine and biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He received an M.D. in 1982 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Benjamin is a physician-scientist who uses the mouse and housefly as model systems to determine how reductive—as opposed to oxidative—stress alters protein conformation and contributes to the development of protein aggregation diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. He is using his Pioneer Award to determine the molecular switches that give rise to excess reducing conditions leading to protein aggregation in human cardiovascular and neurological disorders. Benjamin’s ultimate goal is to fundamentally reshape the current dogma that focuses on the role of oxidative stress and antioxidants in these conditions.
Ajay Chawla, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University
Ajay Chawla, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University. He received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Chawla’s laboratory combines molecular and genetic approaches to understand how the immune system controls metabolic and cellular homeostasis. He is using his Pioneer Award to define the signals and mechanisms by which the immune system orchestrates tissue regeneration after injury, with the goal of modulating these pathways to provide new methods forrestoring damaged and aged tissues.
Chang-Zheng Chen, Ph.D.Stanford University
Chang-Zheng Chen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, Academia Sinica, in 1995. Chen is a biologist who uses genetic and developmental biology tools to study the roles of microRNA genes in the development, function, and pathogenesis of vertebrate immune systems. He is using his Pioneer Award to understand the mechanisms regulating microRNA gene function.
Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D.La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D., is a full member of the Division of Developmental Immunology at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. She received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the State University of Ghent, Belgium, in 1984. Cheroutre’s research focuses on the mucosal immune system and includes the development of immune cells, immune regulation, and mucosal immune memory. She is using her Pioneer Award to identify genetic mutations and defects in the early development and differentiation of immune cells, which may be the basic underlying cause of autoimmunity. Being able to detect such defects early in life could allow the prevention or treatment of autoimmunity before it escalates to a point where medical intervention is no longer an option. Cheroutre will also design medical intervention strategies to compensate for the defects and potentially prevent or treat autoimmune diseases.
Markus W. Covert, Ph.D.Stanford University
Markus W. Covert, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in bioengineering and bioinformatics from the University of California, San Diego, in 2003. Covert focuses on building computational models of complex biological networks and using these models to guide an experimental program and accelerate the discovery process. He is applying his Pioneer Award to building a whole-cell computer model of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae that takes every gene into account. Covert will use the model in a detailed, systemwide analysis of why dietary restriction can have such a strong impact on lifespan in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals.
Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D.University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/North Carolina State University
Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D., is the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He received a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1990. DeSimone’s research in polymer science has covered a broad range of fields, including green manufacturing, medical devices, and nanomedicine. He is using the Pioneer Award to develop new approaches for delivering promising biological therapeutics to specific sites in the body via inhalation and minimally invasive ionotophoretic devices, which use local electrical currents to move drugs into tissues. Underlying his approach is a novel technology for making specifically shaped biological particles based on processes adapted from the semiconductor industry.
Sylvia M. Evans, Ph.D.University of California, San Diego
Sylvia M. Evans, Ph.D., is a professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. She received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of British Columbia in 1984. Evans is a developmental biologist who studies the development of different types of heart cells using the mouse and human embryonic stem cells as model systems. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop new approaches to heart regeneration following injury, with a goal of finding improved approaches for treating heart failure.
Joseph R. Fetcho, Ph.D.Cornell University
Joseph R. Fetcho, Ph.D., is a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University. He received a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Michigan in 1985. Fetcho is a neurobiologist whose work has focused on revealing principles that underlie how neuronal networks are organized to produce movements. He is using the Pioneer Award to apply optical methods in living animals to study broad-scale changes in synaptic strength and neuronal excitability that might occur during sleep, which could enhance understanding of sleep’s role in proper brain function.
Timothy E. Holy, Ph.D.Washington University School of Medicine
Timothy E. Holy, Ph.D., is an associate professor of neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1997. Holy develops new techniques for studying the nervous system and applies them to learn about neural processing and plasticity associated with the sense of smell. He is using the Pioneer Award to develop new optical imaging techniques to record the moment-by-moment activity of large numbers of neurons for hours at a time. These methods will allow neuroscientists to literally watch neuronal circuits compute, potentially changing our understanding of how the brain performs its functions.
Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D.Duke University
Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D., is an associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University. She received a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Her work has provided insight into the signals that control stem cell growth and how these signals are subverted to fuel cancer growth. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop high-resolution imaging strategies to visualize the behavior of living stem cells during growth, regeneration, and cancer formation. A better understanding of stem cells in the context of their native environment will help develop new approaches to regenerative medicine and cancer therapy.
Gene E. Robinson, Ph.D.University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gene E. Robinson,Ph.D., holds the Swanlund Chair at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is director of the neuroscience program and theme leader at the university’s Institute for Genomic Biology. He received a Ph.D. in entomology from Cornell University in 1986. Robinson studies the mechanisms and evolution of social behavior using an integrative approach that draws perspectives and techniques from evolutionary biology, behavior, neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics. He is using his Pioneer Award to understand in molecular terms how to transform the brain’s reward system from a selfish to an altruistic orientation. The goal is to achieve new insights into the flexibility of reward circuits that will fundamentally change our understanding of drug addiction and other diseases of the reward system.
Susan M. Rosenberg, Ph.D.Baylor College of Medicine
Susan M. Rosenberg, Ph.D., is the Cullen Endowed Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine. She received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Oregon in 1986. Rosenberg uses molecular genetic approaches to study mechanisms of genomic instability in the simple model organism Escherichia coli. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop innovative gene discovery methods to examine how the DNA in living cells becomes damaged, leading to genomic instability and cancer. She will seek to discover genetic networks that control levels of endogenous DNA damage in E. coli and underlie genomic instability, then translate the discoveries to human cells, where similar networks may play a previously unrecognized role in cancer.
Leona D. Samson, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Leona D. Samson, Ph.D., is a professor of biological engineering and director of the Center for Environmental Health Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and London University in 1978. Samson applies biochemistry, genetics, and systems biology approaches to understanding the pathways that protect against DNA-damaging agents. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop novel, high-throughput approaches to measure the ability of cells from different people to resist the toxic effects of a wide variety of DNA-damaging agents present in the environment and currently in clinical use. Differences in how people respond to such agents could help explain why some develop cancer or neurological disease and others do not, why some age faster than others, and why some have better results from cancer therapy.
Nirao M. Shah, M.D., Ph.D.University of California, San Francisco
Nirao M. Shah, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor of anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco. He received an M.D. from the University of Mumbai, India, in 1991 and a Ph.D. in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1997. Shah is a neuroscientist who is using his Pioneer Award to develop genetic tools to understand how the brain controls an organism’s ability to form long-lasting social attachments. He seeks to provide new insight into the regulation of social ties and the profound inability to form interpersonal bonds in disorders like autism.
Krishna V. Shenoy, Ph.D.Stanford University
Krishna V. Shenoy, Ph.D., is an associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995. Shenoy combines theoretical, computational, behavioral, and electrophysiological techniques to determine how neural circuits generate arm movements and uses this knowledge to design neurally controlled prosthetic systems for profoundly paralyzed patients. He is using his Pioneer Award to create the technology needed to record—and perturb—neural activity and record muscle and body movements in freely moving nonhuman primates. He will use a fully wireless system to study how the brain orchestrates a broad range of movements, which could lead to new ways to treat paralysis in people.
Sarah A. Tishkoff, Ph.D.University of Pennsylvania
Sarah A. Tishkoff, Ph.D., is PIK (Penn Integrates Knowledge) Professor and the David and Lyn Silfen University Associate Professor of Genetics and Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. She received a Ph.D. in genetics from Yale University in 1996. Tishkoff is a human evolutionary geneticist who uses integrative methods to investigate human genomic variation and its influence on traits of clinical and evolutionary interest. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop a systems biology approach to explore the interactive effects of genomic variation, gene expression, metabolism, and the environment on normal variable traits in ethnically diverse African populations. This work will produce fundamental insights into the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors influencing complex traits that play a role in health and disease and will expand our understanding of human evolutionary history.
Alexander J. Travis, V.M.D., Ph.D.Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Alexander J. Travis, V.M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of reproductive biology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He received a V.M.D. and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995 and 1999. His research investigates the design and function of mammalian sperm, particularly the organization of their energy-producing pathways. With his Pioneer Award, Travis is harnessing this design to develop very small energy sources for implantable medical devices that could carry out a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic functions.
Jin Zhang, Ph.D.Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Jin Zhang, Ph.D., is an associate professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences, neuroscience, and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2000. Zhang’s research focuses on achieving a more comprehensive understanding of cell signaling by adding time and space dimensions and dynamic information to the current map of signal transduction networks. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop a new strategy for manipulating molecular force and perturbing biochemical activity in living systems via genetically engineered probes. The goal is to enable new biochemistry and biophysics studies to address many questions about the properties and behaviors of biological molecules in their native context.
James K. Chen, Ph.D.Stanford University
James K. Chen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of chemical and systems biology at Stanford University. He is also the director of the Stanford High-Throughput Bioscience Center. Chen received a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University in 1999. His research integrates organic chemistry and developmental biology to probe the cellular and molecular mechanisms of embryogenesis. For example, Chen’s laboratory recently invented a technology that uses light to turn off specific genes in whole organisms. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop synthetic reagents for manipulating and visualizing embryonic genetic programs, with the goal of understanding how tissue formation and regeneration are regulated at the molecular level. Chen’s honors include a Scholar Award from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation and a Basil O’Connor Award from the March of Dimes Foundation.
Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D.Stanford University
Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of neurobiology at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford in 1997 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. Dolmetsch is a neurobiologist who combines advanced microscopy, biochemistry, and genetics to determine how mutations alter the development and function of neurons in people with autism. He is using the Pioneer Award to develop methods of using adult human stem cells to generate neurons from people with autism and to study the properties of those cells. Dolmetsch’s honors include a Burroughs Wellcome Award, a Searle Scholar Award, a McKnight Scholar Award, and a Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award.
James Eberwine, Ph.D.University of Pennsylvania
James Eberwine, Ph.D., is the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also co-directs the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute. Eberwine received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University in 1985. He is a molecular neurobiologist who has been interested in the molecular biology underlying how single neurons work in the context of other connected and surrounding cells. Eberwine is using his Pioneer Award to understand how RNA populations encode a cellular memory that helps to control the development and maintenance of cellular identity. His work, while fundamental in nature, will help in seeding the field of RNA therapeutics. Eberwine’s honors include an NIH MERIT Award, two Distinguished Investigator Awards from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Presidential Lecture for the Society of Neuroscience.
Joshua M. Epstein, Ph.D.Brookings Institution/Santa Fe Institute
Joshua M. Epstein, Ph.D., is a senior fellow in economic studies and director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics at the Brookings Institution. He is also an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He received a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. His primary research is in modeling complex social, economic, and biological systems using agent-based computational methods and nonlinear dynamical systems. He has taught computational and mathematical modeling at Princeton University and the Santa Fe Institute Summer School. His Pioneer Award research is modeling how human behavioral adaptations shape infectious and chronic disease dynamics at multiple scales. Epstein is a recognized leader in the field of agent-based computational modeling. The Large-Scale Agent Model, built under his direction, won the 2008 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Analysis from the National Training and Simulation Association. His book, Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling, was published in 2006.
Bruce A. Hay, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Bruce A. Hay, Ph.D., is an associate professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1989. Hay is a biologist who uses genetic and developmental tools to understand and manipulate the biology and genetics of wild populations. He is using his Pioneer Award to pursue a strategy for preventing malaria in humans by introducing genes that block transmission of the disease into populations of wild mosquitoes. Hay’s honors include awards from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Ellison Medical Foundation as well as a Searle Scholar Award.
Ann Hochschild, Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Ann Hochschild is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She received a Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University in 1986. Hochschild's research has focused primarily on the mechanisms of transcription regulation. Her laboratory has probed the underlying molecular events by taking advantage of the relative simplicity of the prokaryotic transcription machinery and E. coli genetics. With her Pioneer Award, Hochschild is developing bacteria-based genetic systems for the study of prions. Her honors include a Junior Fellowship at the Harvard Society of Fellows, a Searle Scholar Award, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, an American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, and election to the American Academy of Microbiology.
Charles M. Lieber, Ph.D.Harvard University
Charles M. Lieber, Ph.D., is the Mark Hyman Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University in 1985. Lieber’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the synthesis, fundamental physical properties, and applications of nanoscale materials with a focus on problems in the life sciences, nanoelectronic systems, and renewable energy. He is using the Pioneer Award to develop active interfaces between nanoelectronic devices, cells, and tissue to create new tools for understanding the behavior of neural networks and the development of sophisticated, electrically based cell-tissue interfaces for prosthetics and other medical devices. His honors include the Scientific American Award in Nanotechnology, the American Chemical and American Physical Society Awards in New Materials, the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, and a National Science Foundation Creativity Award. Lieber is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Barry London, M.D., Ph.D.University of Pittsburgh
Barry London, M.D., Ph.D., is the Harry S. Tack Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh, and director of the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute. He received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1987 and did postgraduate training at Massachusetts General Hospital. London’s work has centered on the identification and characterization of genes involved in sudden cardiac death. He is using the Pioneer Award to develop novel techniques for imaging electrical activity within the heart and interactions between the nervous system and the heart. London is a recipient of an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of University Cardiologists.
Tom Maniatis, Ph.D.Harvard University
Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., is a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University in 1971 and carried out postdoctoral studies at Harvard and in Cambridge, England. Maniatis uses molecular genetic approaches to study basic mechanisms of gene expression. With his Pioneer Award, he is exploring the underlying mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. His approach involves the characterization of cultured motor neurons from patient-derived stem cells. An understanding of ALS disease mechanisms could lead to the development of a therapy for this incurable disease. Maniatis is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his honors include the Richard Lounsbery Award in Biology and Medicine, the Pasarow Award in Cancer Research, the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research, and the Scientific Achievement Award from the American Medical Association.
Teri W. Odom, Ph.D.Northwestern University
Teri W. Odom, Ph.D., is an associate professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at Northwestern University. She received a Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard University in 2001. Odom is a materials chemist who combines top-down fabrication and bottom-up synthesis to control architecture at the 100-nm level. She has developed large area, multiscale nanopatterning tools to create noble metal (plasmonic) structures that can manipulate light at the nanoscale. Odom is using her Pioneer Award to develop new types of plasmonic materials that can resolve subcellular structure in three dimensions and without labels. Odom’s honors include a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award, an American Chemical Society ExxonMobil Solid State Chemistry Fellowship, a DuPont Young Professor Award, and a Rohm and Haas New Faculty Award.
Hongkun Park, Ph.D.Harvard University
Hongkun Park, Ph.D., is a professor of chemistry and of physics at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Stanford University in 1996. Park has been performing groundbreaking research in the areas of nanoscience and technology, most notably in studying single-molecule transistors and one-dimensional nanostructures with novel electronic, optoelectronic, and plasmonic properties. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop new nano- and microelectronic tools that can perturb and record real-time dynamics of in vitro and in vivo neuronal ensembles in a cell-specific fashion. These tools will enable the systematic translation of synaptic connectivity to network function, helping scientists to unravel the design principles of the brain. The tools will also allow network-based diagnostics of neurodegenerative diseases. Park’s honors include a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the World Technology Network Fellowship, and the Ho-Am Prize in Science.
Aviv Regev, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Broad Institute
Aviv Regev, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She received a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University, Israel, in 2003. Regev is a computational biologist who combines genomics and computational approaches to study how complex molecular networks function and evolve. She is using her Pioneer Award to reconstruct epigenetic and genetic changes in regulatory networks over time to achieve a unified understanding of how networks process information, adapt to their environment, and malfunction in human disease. Regev’s honors include the 2008 Overton Award from the International Society of Computational Biology, a Career Development Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and a Sloan Research Fellowship.
Aravinthan D.T. Samuel, Ph.D.Harvard University
Aravinthan D.T. Samuel, Ph.D., is an associate professor of physics and a faculty member in the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. He received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1999. Samuel is a biophysicist who has long been interested in the mechanisms that give rise to purposeful behavior in simple organisms. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop the Drosophila larva as a powerful model system to analyze the neural circuits that mediate sensory perception and decisionmaking during the navigational behaviors that this animal exhibits in complex environments. He will develop novel techniques derived from physical optics to noninvasively monitor neural activity deep within the brains of larvae as they move freely during behavioral tasks. His work will provide fundamental insights into how an animal's nervous system regulates and produces behavior. Samuel’s honors include a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a McKnight Scholar Award, and a Brain and Immuno-Imaging Award from the Dana Foundation.
Saeed Tavazoie, Ph.D.Princeton University
Saeed Tavazoie, Ph.D., is an associate professor of molecular biology and a member of the Lewis- Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. He received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1999. Tavazoie uses genomic and computational methods to study the structure, function, and evolution of regulatory networks across organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. He is using his Pioneer Award to study how regulatory networks are shaped by the complex and dynamic environments of native microbial habitats. In particular, his research will explore how such “internal representations” allow single-cell organisms to carry out cognitive tasks typically associated with metazoan nervous systems. Tavazoie’s honors include a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.
Alice Y. Ting, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alice Y. Ting, Ph.D., is an associate professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000. Ting is an organic chemist and biochemist who is developing new reporters and technologies for live cell imaging. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop new approaches to the study of endogenous proteins in living cells. The goal is to circumvent the problems associated with recombinant protein and transgene expression in cells and tissue to enable the study of endogenous proteins in their native form and native context. Ting’s honors include a McKnight Technology Award, a Technology Review TR35 Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, an NIH Career Development Award, and a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.
Alexander van Oudenaarden, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alexander van Oudenaarden, Ph.D., is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics in 1998 from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Van Oudenaarden is a biophysicist whose goal is to quantitatively understand the origins and consequences of stochastic gene expression using a combination of experimental and computational methods. He is using the Pioneer Award to explore how stochastic gene expression is controlled during embryonic development and cellular differentiation. Van Oudenaarden’s honors include a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
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.Columbia University
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.Stanford University
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.Boston University
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.Stanford University
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.Brandeis University
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.
Kwabena A. Boahen, Ph.D.Stanford University
Kwabena A. Boahen, Ph.D., is an associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in computation and neural systems from the California Institute of Technology in 1997. Boahen is a bioengineer who is using silicon-integrated circuits to emulate the way neurons compute, linking the seemingly disparate fields of electronics and computer science with neurobiology and medicine. His “neuromorphic” chips – including a silicon retina that could be used to give the blind sight – were the subject of a Scientific American cover story in May 2005. Boahen is using his Pioneer Award to develop Neurogrid, a specialized hardware platform to enable the inner workings of the brain’s cortex to be simulated in detail – something outside the reach of even the fastest supercomputers. His honors include a Packard Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
Arup K. Chakraborty, Ph.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Arup K. Chakraborty, Ph.D., is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1988. Chakraborty’s early work focused on the development and application of quantum and statistical mechanical approaches to the study of polymers and catalysts. Since 2000, his research has been focused on immunology. Chakraborty has shown that theoretical methods rooted in physics and engineering can complement biological experiments (with collaborators) to understand how T lymphocytes communicate with other cells and detect the presence of minute amounts of antigen. With his Pioneer Award, he is using related approaches to develop the principles that govern the emergence of autoimmune diseases. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Chakraborty has also been recognized with the Allan P. Colburn and Professional Progress awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.
Lila M. Gierasch, Ph.D.University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Lila M. Gierasch, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1975. Gierasch’s research focuses on protein folding and protein-peptide interactions. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop new ways to observe the process of protein folding in vivo. This work will provide fundamental knowledge needed to understand diseases associated with protein misfolding. Gierasch’s honors include the Vincent du Vigneaud Award from the American Peptide Society, a D.Sc. honoris causa from Mount Holyoke College, and the Garvan-Olin Medal from the American Chemical Society. She has served on the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council at the National Institutes of Health as well as on the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
Rebecca W. Heald, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley
Rebecca W. Heald, Ph.D., is an associate professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She received a Ph.D. in cell physiology from Harvard Medical School in 1993. Heald has done groundbreaking research on the mechanisms of cell division, focusing on the mitotic spindle apparatus, which functions to segregate duplicated chromosomes equally to the two daughter cells. She is using her Pioneer Award to study how cells determine the size of their component organelles, such as the spindle. Heald is a monitoring editor for the Journal of Cell Biology. She was the 2005 recipient of the Women in Cell Biology Career Recognition Award from the American Society for Cell Biology.
Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D.Stanford University School of Medicine
Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1983. Kirkegaard has combined her interests in biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics to develop an approach to guide the selection of antiviral targets, with the goal of suppressing the drug-resistant RNA genomes that will inevitably be formed due to the high error rates of RNA replication. She is using her Pioneer Award to pursue the identification of dominant drug targets for the RNA genomes of the hepatitis C, polio, West Nile, and Dengue viruses. She is also quantifying the extent to which antiviral compounds targeted at the identified molecules suppress drug-resistant variant growth. Kirkegaard’s honors include a fellowship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Searle Scholar Award, and an Ellison Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Global Infectious Disease.
Thomas J. Kodadek, Ph.D.Scripps Research Institute, Florida
Thomas J. Kodadek, Ph.D., is a professor of Chemistry & Cancer Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. Kodadek received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1985 from Stanford University. His research focuses on the novel roles of the proteasome in gene expression, the role of the neurohormone orexin in various biological processes and the development of new proteomic technologies. Kodadek is using his Pioneer Award to develop a chemistry-based approach to monitor and manipulate the immune system.
Cheng Chi Lee, Ph.D.University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Cheng Chi Lee, Ph.D., is an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1986 from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Early in his career, Lee developed novel technology for gene cloning. During the last decade, he has carried out innovative research on the identification of genes and their roles in regulating circadian rhythm in mammals. Recently, he identified an end product of metabolism that acts as a regulator of torpor, a mammalian hypothermic behavior. Lee is using his Pioneer Award to investigate the biological processes of suspended animation that are analogous to severe hypothermia in non- hibernating mammals. This work could have many medical applications.
Evgeny A. Nudler, Ph.D.New York University School of Medicine
Evgeny Nudler, Ph.D., is a professor of biochemistry at the New York University School of Medicine. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1995 from the Institute of Molecular Genetics in Moscow, Russia. Nudler has done pioneering studies in various biological fields. His original work on transcription explained how RNA polymerase moves and recognizes pausing and termination signals in DNA and RNA. His studies on bacterial gene regulation led to the discovery of riboswitches (metabolite- sensing RNA) that control more than 3 percent of all bacterial genes. More recently, his group uncovered key regulators of the heat shock response in eukaryotic cells. Nudler has also made important contributions in the area of nitric oxide biochemistry in both animal and bacterial systems. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop conceptually new approaches to treat and prevent infectious diseases. Among Nudler’s honors are a Searle Scholar Award and an Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation Award.
Gary J. Pielak, Ph.D.University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Gary J. Pielak, Ph.D., is a professor of chemistry and a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also directs the UNC Macromolecular Interactions Facility and co-directs the UNC Biomolecular NMR Facility. Pielak earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Washington State University in 1983. He has done pioneering research in protein engineering, biological electron transfer, and protein thermodynamics. He is using his Pioneer Award to study proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases at the atomic level inside living cells. Pielak’s honors include a DuPont Young Faculty Award and an Underwood Fund Award.
David A. Relman, M.D.Stanford University
David A. Relman, M.D., is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of medicine at Stanford University. He is also chief of infectious diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. Relman received an M.D. in 1982 from Harvard Medical School. He has made significant contributions in the areas of microbial pathogen discovery and host-microbe interactions, including the identification of microbial causes for several important human diseases. He is using his Pioneer Award to characterize the microbial communities indigenous to humans and understand the roles of these communities in health and disease. Relman is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a member of the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine, and a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.
Rosalind A. Segal, M.D., Ph.D.Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Rosalind A. Segal, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and Ted Williams Senior Investigator, Departments of Cancer Biology and Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Segal received a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1985 and an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1986. Her laboratory focuses on the biology of brain tumors by probing the complex molecular machinery of the developing brain. Segal’s research aims to understand the mechanisms critical for normal development of the nervous system and how deregulated proliferation, migration, and survival of cells can cause brain tumors and other neurological diseases. She is using her Pioneer Award for genetic and biochemical studies to identify the way complex sugars work to maintain neural stem cells in the developing and adult brain. Her prior honors include the Klingenstein Fund Robert Ebert Fellowship and a fellowship from the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research.
James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D.Boston Biomedical Research Institute
James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D., is a senior scientist in the programs in regenerative biology and cancer at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute. He earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988. Sherley’s research focuses on elucidating mechanisms responsible for the specialized renewal properties of adult stem cells and using this knowledge to address major research problems limiting the development of adult stem cells for biomedicine. These problems include producing large numbers of adult stem cells for research and development. Sherley is using his Pioneer Award to enable a new era of cellular medicine by developing routine methods for the production of several types of human adult stem cells with clinical potential. His honors include an award from the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences, selection for the Pew Science and Society Institute, and the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging.
Younan Xia, Ph.D.Washington University in St. Louis
Younan Xia, Ph.D., is a professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. He received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 1996. Xia is best known for the co-invention of soft lithography with Harvard professor George M. Whitesides, Ph.D., and the development of many methods for the controlled synthesis of nanomaterials. He has also done pioneering research to understand and manipulate the evolution pathways from atoms to nanocrystals. Xia is using his Pioneer Award to develop new tools for studying complex biological systems by harnessing the power of nanomaterials. His honors include a Baekeland Award from the American Chemical Society North Jersey Section, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, a Packard Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, an American Chemical Society Victor K. LaMer Award, and a Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award.
Vicki L. Chandler, Ph.D.University of Arizona
Vicki L. Chandler, Ph.D., is Regents’ Professor of Plant Sciences and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She also directs the university’s interdisciplinary biomedical research institute, BIO5. Chandler received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1983 from the University of California, San Francisco. She has done groundbreaking research on the control of gene expression in plants, making important contributions to explain why particular DNA sequences become silent or active depending on their position within a genome. She is using her Pioneer Award to search for similar mechanisms in humans, as these mechanisms could be associated with certain human diseases. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Chandler’s other honors include a Presidential Young Investigator Award and a Searle Scholarship.
Hollis T. Cline, Ph.D.Scripps Research Institute
Hollis T. Cline, Ph.D., is a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. She received a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985. Using time-lapse imaging, electrophysiology, and molecular genetic techniques, Cline developed an experimental system to assess cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying plasticity in response to visual stimulation in living animals. She is using her Pioneer Award to launch a large-scale project to understand the architecture, development, and plasticity of brain circuits. Cline is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and was recently a Council member of the Society for Neuroscience.
Leda Cosmides, Ph.D.University of California, Santa Barbara
Leda Cosmides, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her doctorate in psychology from Harvard University in 1985. Cosmides and her lifelong collaborator, John Tooby, Ph.D., are best known for their role in co-founding the field of evolutionary psychology, introduced in the landmark book, The Adapted Mind. This new approach weaves together evolutionary biology, cognitive science, human evolution, anthropology, neuroscience, and psychology to discover previously unknown mechanisms of the human mind and brain. Cosmides and Tooby co-developed the ideas that formed the basis of the Pioneer Award proposal. They are using the award to develop evolutionary and computational approaches to the study of motivation and developmental neuroscience. Cosmides' awards include the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research for her research on evolution and reasoning, as well as the American Psychological Association's Early Career Contribution Award.
Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University
Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University in Stanford, CA. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 1998 and an M.D. in 2000, both from Stanford. Deisseroth combines bioengineering and psychiatry in studying intact neural circuits in the mammalian brain. He is using his Pioneer Award to launch a large-scale, systematic effort to map key neural circuit dynamics on the millisecond timescale. This will enable him to test the hypothesis that impairments in high-speed circuit dynamics are the source of severe psychiatric symptoms like anxiety and hopelessness. Deisseroth’s honors include the Coulter Foundation Early Career Translational Research Award in Biomedical Engineering, the McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, and the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education Young Faculty Award.
Titia de Lange, Ph.D.The Rockefeller University
Titia de Lange, Ph.D., is the Leon Hess professor and head of the Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics at The Rockefeller University in New York City. She received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Dutch Cancer Institute, University of Amsterdam, in 1985. She is a leader in the study of telomeres, the specialized protein-DNA complexes that cap the ends of chromosomes and that have been implicated in cancer and cellular aging. She is using her Pioneer Award to develop a new system for studying the biological response to DNA damage. A member of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, de Lange is the recipient of numerous awards, including an inaugural Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Pehr A.B. Harbury, Ph.D.Stanford University School of Medicine
Pehr A.B. Harbury is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, CA. He received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Harvard University in 1994. Harbury is a chemist whose research focuses on protein structure, folding, and design. He is using his Pioneer Award to develop an approach called DNA Display as a means of engineering drugs significantly more quickly and cheaply than is currently possible. His honors include a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Burroughs Wellcome Young Investigator Award in the Pharmacological Sciences, and selection by Technology Review magazine as one of the top 100 young innovators with the greatest potential to have an impact on technology in the 21st century.
Erich D. Jarvis, Ph.D.Duke University Medical Center
Erich D. Jarvis, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. He received a Ph.D. in molecular neurobiology and animal behavior from The Rockefeller University in 1995. Jarvis combines molecular, behavioral, electrophysiological, and computational tools to decipher vocal learning, using vocal learning in birds as a model system. He is using his Pioneer Award to test a hypothesis about the genetic machinery underlying vocal learning that could pave the way for repairing vocalization disorders in humans. During his undergraduate training at Hunter College and his graduate education, Jarvis received support from two programs of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences: the Minority Biomedical Research Support program and the Minority Access to Research Careers program. In 2002, Jarvis received the Alan T. Waterman Award, the National Science Foundation's highest honor for a young researcher. In 2006, Popular Science magazine included Jarvis on its "Brilliant 10" list of the year's most creative young scientists.
Thomas A. Rando, M.D., Ph.D.Stanford University School of Medicine
Thomas A. Rando, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, CA. He is also director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA. Rando received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Harvard University in 1987. His research draws on the fields of stem cell biology, the biology of aging, and bioengineering to understand the molecular basis for the age-related decline in the body’s ability to repair its tissues. He is using his Pioneer Award to apply knowledge of adult stem cell biology to enhance tissue repair and regeneration due to aging, injury, or disease. An elected member of the American Neurological Association, Rando has also received the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging.
Derek J. Smith, Ph.D.University of Cambridge | Erasmus Medical Center
Derek J. Smith, Ph.D., is a research associate in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, and a research scientist in the Department of Virology at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He was a graduate fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and received a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of New Mexico in 1997. Smith is using a new mathematical method called antigenic cartography to study the phenotypic evolution of influenza viruses and other rapidly evolving pathogens. This work has direct application to basic questions in evolution as well as immediate application in, for example, the selection of viral strains for use in vaccines. Smith is using his Pioneer Award to further understand pathogen evolution and to use this understanding to significantly advance our options to control rapidly evolving pathogens. He is a member of the World Health Organization committee that chooses the composition of the influenza vaccine.
Giulio Tononi, M.D., Ph.D.University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School
Giulio Tononi, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School. He received an M.D. in 1985 and a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 1989 from the University of Pisa, Italy. Tononi studies consciousness and its disorders as well as the mechanisms and functions of sleep. He is using his Pioneer Award to test the hypothesis that sleep is needed for a process called synaptic homeostasis. According to the hypothesis, learning during wakefulness increases the strength of brain synapses, and sleep returns their strength to a baseline level that is energetically sustainable. The results of this research have clear implications for the prevention and treatment of sleep disorders.
Clare M. Waterman- Storer, Ph.D.The Scripps Research Institute
Clare M. Waterman-Storer, Ph.D., received a Pioneer Award while she was an associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. In 2007, when she joined the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health, she relinquished the award. Waterman-Storer received a Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. She has developed fluorescence imaging techniques and analytical methods to study dynamic processes in living cells and used her Pioneer Award to apply these tools to correlate the interactions of multiple cellular components with biophysical outputs involved in cellular movement. She was the 2002 recipient of the Women in Cell Biology Career Recognition Award from the American Society for Cell Biology and the 2006 recipient of the R.R. Bensley Award in Cell Biology from the American Association of Anatomists.
Nathan D. Wolfe, D.Sc.University of California, Los Angeles
Nathan D. Wolfe, D.Sc., is a professor of epidemiology in the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health. He received his doctorate in immunology and infectious diseases from Harvard University in 1998. Wolfe combines methods from molecular virology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology to study the biology of viral emergence. He is using his Pioneer Award to work in regions of high biodiversity with subsistence hunters, who will collaborate in the establishment of a sentinel surveillance system to monitor the entry of novel viruses into the human species. Such viruses pose a significant threat to global public health. He will also utilize new technologies for detecting unknown microorganisms. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, Wolfe was named one of the “Brilliant 10” by Popular Science magazine in 2005.
Junying Yuan, Ph.D.Harvard Medical School
Junying Yuan, Ph.D., is a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University in 1989. Yuan is a leader in research on apoptosis, a genetically encoded cellular mechanism controlling cell death that plays a critical role in many human diseases. She is using the Pioneer Award to move her research in an entirely new direction—exploring the possible existence of a novel cellular mechanism that specifically detects and removes misfolded, neurotoxic proteins. If successful, this work could lead to new ways of enhancing the cell’s ability to detect and degrade such misfolded proteins, which may have important implications for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. Yuan’s awards include the Wilson S. Stone Memorial Award from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Innovator Award for Breast Cancer Research from the U.S. Department of Defense. In addition, she has served as an editor or editorial board member for a number of journals, including as a senior editor for the Journal of Cell Biology.
Larry Abbott, Ph.D.Columbia University
Larry Abbott, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and a member of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He received his Ph.D. in physics at Brandeis University in 1977. After a 10 year career in theoretical particle physics, Abbott switched his research interests to the mathematical modeling and analysis of neurons and neural networks. His research involves using analytic techniques and computer simulation to study the electrical characteristics of single neurons, to determine how neurons interact to produce functioning neural circuits, and to investigate how large populations of neurons represent, store, and process information. He is the author of numerous research articles in both particle physics and neuroscience, as well as a widely used textbook on theoretical neuroscience.
George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D.Children’s Hospital Boston / Harvard Stem Cell Institute
George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned his doctorate in biology in 1989 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his medical degree in 1991 from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Daley studies stem cells of the blood to define the molecular basis of human leukemia and to gain insights into normal blood development. He has won several awards and has published 85 journal articles. In 2003, his germ cell research was cited as a “Top Ten” breakthrough by Science magazine.
Homme W. Hellinga, Ph.D.Duke University Medical Center
Homme W. Hellinga, Ph.D., is Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He received a doctorate in molecular biology in 1986 from University of Cambridge. His research interests include combined theoretical and experimental approaches to protein and drug design, molecular simulation, and protein engineering. Dr. Hellinga has published more than 44 journal articles. He holds three patents with three more pending approval.
Joseph (Mike) McCune, M.D., Ph.D.Division of Experimental Medicine, University of California at San Francisco
Mike McCune, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Experimental Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He earned an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College and a Ph.D. in immunology and cell biology from the Rockefeller University, then completed a residency in internal medicine at UCSF. Dr. McCune’s research has focused on the pathogenic mechanisms of viral diseases, particularly HIV-1 disease. He is currently focusing his attention on understanding the correlates of protective immunity against HIV, with the specific intent to work with others to develop an effective vaccine. He won an Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Scientist Award in 1996, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research in 2000, and an NIH MERIT Award in 2001. Dr. McCune has published more than 150 articles and holds 20 patents and inventions.
Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D.UT Southwestern Medical Center
Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D., is Professor and Chairman of the Biochemistry Department at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He earned his doctorate in Biology in 1977 from University of Virginia. The McKnight laboratory seeks to understand the regulation of transcription factors, the regulatory proteins that switch genes on and off, at a biochemical level with keen attention to biological relevance. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Chad Mirkin, Ph.D.Northwestern University
Chad Mirkin, Ph.D., is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. Mirkin is pioneering the development of nanoscale chemical and biological sensors. He also invented and developed Dip-Pen Nanolithography, a groundbreaking nanoscale analytical tool. Some of his many honors include: the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences; the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award; the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry; the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology; and the Leo Hendrick Baekeland Award. Mirkin has authored over 200 publications and 75 patents, serves on the editorial advisory board of 12 chemistry journals, and is the founding editor of the international journal of nanotechnology, Small. He is also the founder of two companies, Nanosphere and NanoInk.
Rob Phillips, Ph.D.California Institute of Technology
Rob Phillips, Ph.D., is professor of Engineering and Applied Science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He received his doctorate in Physics in 1989 from Washington University in St. Louis. His laboratory's research projects are aimed at exploring nanoscale mechanics in biological systems. Several recent case studies include mechanical processes such as DNA ejection and DNA packing that occur during the life cycle of bacterial viruses and the study of how certain classes of ion channels are gated by mechanical forces. His extensive work in modeling materials culminated in a book entitled Crystals, Defects and Microstructures.
Stephen R. Quake, D.Phil.Stanford University
Stephen R. Quake, D.Phil., is a professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. He earned his doctor of philosophy in 1994 from Oxford University. After a postdoc at Stanford, he began his independent career at the California Institute of Technology in 1996, where he rose through the ranks to become the Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Applied Physics and Physics. Dr. Quake’s lab is broadly interested in biophysics and bioengineering, and uses techniques such as single molecule spectroscopy and microfluidics to address a variety of fundamental and technological questions.
Sunney Xie, Ph.D.Harvard University
Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, Ph.D., is Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. He earned his doctorate in chemistry in 1990 from the University of California, San Diego. His research has three objectives: (1) to understand conformational and chemical dynamics of biomolecules such as enzymes through single-molecule spectroscopic studies; (2) to study biochemical activities of macromolecules in living cells, gene expression in particular, at the single-molecule level; (3) to develop new microscopy techniques for cellular imaging. Dr. Xie holds three patents and has published more than 70 journal articles. In 2003 he won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences.
This page last reviewed on November 15, 2017