NIH Director's Transformative Research Award Recipients

2018 Awardees

Dinu F. Albeanu

Dinu F. Albeanu, Ph.D.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Project Title: A High-Throughput Sequencing and Imaging Approach to Understand the Functional Basis of Olfaction
Grant ID: R01-DC017876
Co-PI: Alexei Koulakov, Ph.D.

Dinu F. Albeanu is an Associate Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). His laboratory focuses on understanding key principles underlying sensorimotor transformations in the brain. Current research investigates the nature of odor space, the flow of information within the olfactory stream, and the neural substrates of internal models of the world (sensorimotor predictions and error signals) in closed-loop olfactory environments. Honors include a CSHL Fellowship, a Pew Scholarship, a Whitehall Fellowship and a BRAIN EAGER award. He received a B.S. from MIT and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.


Zhirong Bao

Zhirong Bao, Ph.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering

Project Title: An Integrative Cellular Blueprint of Vertebrate Tissue Development
Grant ID: R01-OD026219
Co-PIs: Jan Huisken, Ph.D. and David Traver, Ph.D.
Funded by the Office of the Director (Office of Research Infrastructure Programs & Common Fund), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, & National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Zhirong Bao is a Member of the Developmental Biology Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He obtained his PhD in Computational Biology from Washington University in St Louis in 2002. During postdoctoral studies, he was among the first to establish in toto imaging of metazoan embryogenesis with fluorescence microscopy and its application for systematic single-cell analysis of developmental phenotypes and collective cell behaviors. His laboratory has conducted large-scale analysis of lineage differentiation in C. elegans, and continues to develop software platforms for automated cell tracking and lineage tracing based on 3D time-lapse images, as well as interactive digital atlas for data visualization.


Anne Brunet

Anne Brunet, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Project Title: Brain-Wide Screen for a Neural Pacemaker of Aging
Grant ID: R01-AG063418
Co-PI: Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Brunet wants to understand the regulation of aging based on the integration of model organisms with diverse lifespans. She seeks to identify pathways that delay aging in a long-lasting manner in response to external stimuli such as nutrients or the opposite sex. Her lab also addresses specific questions about mammalian aging, notably aging and rejuvenation of adult neural stem cells. Importantly, her lab has pioneered the naturally short-lived African killifish as a new model organism to identify principles underlying vertebrate aging.


Steven A. Carr

Steven A. Carr, Ph.D.

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Project Title: Mapping Protein Communication Between Organs in Homeostasis and Disease
Grant ID: R01-DK121409
Co-PIs: Andrew P McMahon, B.A., Ph.D.; Norbert Perrimon, M.S., Ph.D.; and Alice Ting, Ph.D.

Steven Carr is Director of Proteomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and an Institute Scientist. Steve and his group collaborate with scientists throughout the Broad Institute community (comprised of MIT, Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and the 17 Harvard-affiliated hospitals) to develop and apply state-of-the-art proteomics technology to address compelling questions in biology, chemistry, and clinical medicine. Research in his laboratory focuses on developing and applying new technologies to quantify proteins and their modifications and interaction partners in tissues, cells and biofluids with high sensitivity and specificity; improving informatics for peptide and protein assignment using mass spectrometry (MS) data and integration of MS-derived data with genomic data to understand disease biology and drug effects. The group also has a major focus on the discovery and quantitative verification of biomarkers for major diseases including cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases as well as pharmacodynamics markers of drug response. Steve has over 300 publications on the development and use of proteomics and biological mass spectrometry, and he is Deputy Editor of the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, the leading journal in the field of Proteomics.


Karl Deisseroth

Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.

Stanford University and HHMI

Project Title: Brain-Wide Screen for a Neural Pacemaker of Aging
Grant ID: R01-AG063418
Co-PI: Anne Brunet, Ph.D.

Karl Deisseroth, M.D. Ph.D., is the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and Psychiatry at Stanford, and HHMI Investigator. He received his AB from Harvard, his MD from Stanford, and his PhD from Stanford in 1998, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. He launched his lab at Stanford in July 2004, where he developed  optogenetics (with an NIH Director's Pioneer Award he received in 2005) and hydrogel-tissue chemistry (with an NIH Director's TR01 Award he received in 2013). Deisseroth was the sole recipient (for optogenetics) of the 2010 Koetser Prize, 2010 Nakasone Prize, 2013 Lounsbery Prize, 2014 Dickson Prize in Science, 2015 Keio Prize, 2015 Lurie Prize, 2015 Albany Prize, 2015 Dickson Prize in Medicine, 2017 Redelsheimer Prize, 2017 Fresenius Prize, 2018 Eisenberg Prize, 2018 Leibinger Prize, and 2018 Kyoto Prize. Deisseroth also received several additional awards for optogenetics including the Zuelch Prize (2012), Perl Prize (2012), BRAIN Prize (2013), Pasarow Prize (2013), Breakthrough Prize (2015), BBVA Award (2016), Massry Prize (2017), Canada Gairdner Award (2018) and Harvey Prize from the Technion in Israel (2018).


Jan Huisken

Jan Huisken, Ph.D.

Morgridge Institute for Research and University of Wisconsin, Madison

Project Title: An Integrative Cellular Blueprint of Vertebrate Tissue Development
Grant ID: R01-OD026219
Co-PIs: Zhirong Bao, Ph.D. and David Traver, Ph.D.
Funded by the Office of the Director (Office of Research Infrastructure Programs & Common Fund), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, & National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Jan Huisken is a principal investigator and director of Medical Engineering at the Morgridge Institute for Research, Professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison and recipient of the Royal Microscopy Society Medal for Light Microscopy. Jan studied physics in Göttingen and Heidelberg and has a background in three-dimensional fluorescence microscopy, optical trapping and manipulation techniques, developmental biology and cardiac morphogenesis and function in zebrafish. He received his PhD from the EMBL Heidelberg, where he pioneered multidimensional light sheet microscopy (also Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy, SPIM) in the lab of Ernst Stelzer. For one of the first applications of light sheet microscopy, Huisken moved to the lab of Didier Stainier at the University of California San Francisco as a cross-disciplinary HFSP postdoctoral fellow to study cardiovascular morphogenesis and function in zebrafish. From 2010 until 2016 Huisken was an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany.


Thomas Kodadek

Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D.

The Scripps Research Institute

Project Title: Phenotypic Screening Using DNA-Encoded Libraries
Grant ID: R01-GM133041

Prof. Thomas Kodadek received his B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Miami (FL) in 1981 and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University in 1985, then pursued post-doctoral studies in the laboratory of Prof. Bruce Alberts at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School from 1985-1987. He has held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas prior to taking his current position at Scripps Florida in 2009. Prof. Kodadek works in the field of chemical biology and focuses on the development of chemical tools to monitor and manipulate the proteome. His laboratory has also made important contributions to our understanding of how genes are rearranged and expressed. He is the recipient of several awards including NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the Makeneni Award from the American Peptide Society and the Arthur C. Cope Senior Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2017.


Roger D. Kornberg

Roger D. Kornberg, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Project Title: Three-Dimensional Structure of Eukaryote Chromosomes
Grant ID: R01-DK121366

Roger Kornberg is Winzer Professor in Medicine and Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford in 1972 for his demonstration of the diffusional motions of lipids in bilayer membranes, termed flip-flop and lateral diffusion. He was a postdoctoral fellow and member of the scientific staff at the Laboratory of Molecular biology in Cambridge, England from 1972-5, where he discovered the nucleosome. He moved to his present position in 1978, where his research has focused on the mechanism and regulation of eukaryotic gene transcription. Kornberg’s closest collaborator has been his wife, Dr. Yahli Lorch.They have three children, Guy, Maya, and Gil.


Alexei Koulakov

Alexei Koulakov, Ph.D.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Project Title: A High-Throughput Sequencing and Imaging Approach to Understand the Functional Basis of Olfaction
Grant ID: R01-DC017876
Co-PI: Dinu F. Albeanu, Ph.D.

Dr. Koulakov earned his M.Sc. degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Minnesota. After completing his postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute, he received a faculty appointment at the Physics Department of the University of Utah. In 2003, he moved to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he is now a Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Koulakov uses methods of computational and theoretical neuroscience, applied mathematics, and machine learning to build quantitative models of brain function.


Richard T Lee

Richard T. Lee, M.D.

Harvard University

Project Title: Novel Age-Dependent DNA Modifications
Grant ID: R01-AG063341
Funded by National Institute on Aging

Richard T. Lee is Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lee is a graduate of Harvard College in Biochemical Sciences and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Lee’s laboratory studies heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, as these diseases are now major barriers to healthy aging. Dr. Lee also teaches undergraduate courses at Harvard College, where his laboratory is located. Dr. Lee has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles based on his research.


Nicola Mason

Nicola Mason, B.Vet.Med., Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Project Title: Translating Cellular Immunotherapies for Autoimmunity to Canine Clinical Trials
Grant ID: R01-AR075337
Co-PI: Aimee S. Payne, M.D., Ph.D.

Nicola Mason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her veterinary degree from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London and her PhD in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania. She performed her post-doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. Taking a comparative approach to overcome some of the intrinsic limitations of rodent model systems, Dr. Mason’s translational research group focuses on evaluating the safety and therapeutic effect of immunotherapies in pet dogs with spontaneous cancer and autoimmunity. Results from well-designed, appropriately controlled clinical trials in veterinary patients are used to identify correlative biomarkers of response and inform human clinical trial design.


Andrew P McMahon

Andrew P. McMahon, Ph.D.

University of Southern California

Project Title: Mapping Protein Communication Between Organs in Homeostasis and Disease
Grant ID: R01-DK121409
Co-PIs: Steven A. Carr, Ph.D.; Norbert Perrimon, M.S., Ph.D.; and Alice Ting, Ph.D.

Andrew (Andy) McMahon is Keck Provost Professor, Chair of the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). His laboratory’s research has focused on elucidating the roles of cell-cell interactions and gene regulatory networks in the assembly and repair of mammalian organ systems. Current research is centered on the mammalian kidney, applying developmental insight to create new kidney structures, and developing novel approaches to model and treat injury and disease of the kidney.


Aimee S. Payne

Aimee S. Payne, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Project Title: Translating Cellular Immunotherapies for Autoimmunity to Canine Clinical Trials
Grant ID: R01-AR075337
Co-PI: Nicola Mason, B.Vet.Med., PhD.

Aimee Payne is the Albert M. Kligman Associate Professor of Dermatology, Associate Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, and Core Director of the Skin Biology and Diseases Resource-based Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Payne received her BS in Biology from Stanford University, her MD and PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Washington University School of Medicine, and her dermatology training at the University of Pennsylvania. Her laboratory has focused on B cell repertoire cloning from patients with the autoimmune disease pemphigus vulgaris to better understand how autoreactivity develops and to develop better targeted therapies for disease. Recently, her laboratory developed a novel genetically engineered cellular immunotherapy for autoimmune disease treatment known as chimeric autoantibody receptor T cell (CAART) therapy, which will be applied to canine clinical trials to assess its safety and curative potential. Dr. Payne’s work has been recognized with the Charles and Daneen Stiefel Scholar Award in Autoimmune Diseases, the Top 10 Clinical Research Forum Award, and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.


Norbert Perrimon

Norbert Perrimon, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Project Title: Mapping Protein Communication Between Organs in Homeostasis and Disease
Grant ID: R01-DK121409
Co-PIs: Steven A. Carr, Ph.D.; Andrew P McMahon, B.A., Ph.D.; and Alice Ting, Ph.D.

Norbert Perrimon is the James Stillman Professor of Developmental Biology in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and an Associate member of the Broad Institute. He is a geneticist recognized for his work in signal transduction and the development of functional genomics methods. He is known particularly for the characterization of canonical signaling pathways and the development of methods, such as the FLP-FRT Dominant Female Sterile technique to generate germline mosaics, the Gal4-UAS method to control gene expression both spatially and temporally, and highthrouput RNAi screening. He received a doctorate from the University of Paris in 1983. He has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School since 1986. He received the George W. Beadle Medal form the Genetics Society of America in. 2004. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, EMBO, and National Academy of Sciences.


Steven J. Schiff

Steven J. Schiff, M.D., Ph.D.

The Pennsylvania State University

Project Title: Predictive Personalized Public Health (P3H): A Novel Paradigm to Treat Infectious Disease
Grant ID: R01-AI145057

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. A Pediatric Neurosurgeon with particular interests in Epilepsy, Hydrocephalus, Sustainable Health Engineering and Global Health, he holds an SB degree from MIT, and a PhD in Physiology and MD from Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Schiff is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, American College of Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Epilepsy Society and the 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 wrote the first book on Neural Control Engineering, published by the MIT Press in 2012, and received the NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2015 to pursue control of neonatal sepsis and hydrocephalus in Africa. He plays the viola in the Nittany Valley Symphony in a somewhat out of tune manner.


Peter L. Strick

Peter L. Strick, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh

Project Title: The Neural Basis of the Brain-Body Connection
Grant ID: R01-AT010414

Dr. Peter L. Strick is the founding Scientific Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, as well as Thomas Detre Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Neurobiology. Strick earned a B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1976, Strick moved to the VA Medical Center in Syracuse, New York and joined the Departments of Neurosurgery and Physiology at the SUNY-Upstate Medical Center; in 2000, Strick moved to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Strick was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004) and to the National Academy of Sciences (2012). Strick's research focuses on: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the cortical motor areas; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.


Alice Ting

Alice Ting, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Project Title: Mapping Protein Communication Between Organs in Homeostasis and Disease
Grant ID: R01-DK121409
Co-PIs: Steven A. Carr, Ph.D.; Andrew P McMahon, B.A., Ph.D.; and Norbert Perrimon, M.S., Ph.D.

Alice Ting is Professor of Genetics, Chemistry, and Biology at Stanford University. Prior to that, she was a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at MIT for 14 years. Ting’s undergraduate education was at Harvard (chemistry), her Ph.D. was at UC Berkeley with Peter Schultz, and her postdoctoral training was at UCSD with Roger Tsien. Her lab develops molecular technologies for studying proteins and signaling pathways in living cells and organisms, and applies them to neuroscience and mitochondrial biology. Her work has been recognized by the NIH Pioneer Award, the McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, and the ACS Arthur Cope Scholar Award, among other prizes. She is an investigator of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.


David Traver

David Traver, Ph.D.

University of California, San Diego

Project Title: An Integrative Cellular Blueprint of Vertebrate Tissue Development
Grant ID: R01-OD026219
Co-PIs: Zhirong Bao, Ph.D. and Jan Huisken, Ph.D.
Funded by the Office of the Director (Office of Research Infrastructure Programs & Common Fund), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, & National Institute of General Medical Sciences

David Traver is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He performed his graduate work with Irving Weissman at Stanford University, where he was awarded the McDevitt Prize for best thesis in Immunology in 2000. Following completion of his postdoctoral studies with Leonard Zon at Harvard University in 2004, he established his own group at UCSD that is focused on defining the mechanisms that regulate the embryonic commitment of mesodermal precursors to the hematopoietic lineages. Utilizing the unique strengths of the zebrafish embryo, his group developed high-resolution experimental strategies to image directly the birth and behavior of hematopoietic stem cells for the first time. Traver has received a Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health, a Young Investigator Award from the Beckman Foundation, and Scholar Awards from the American Society of Hematology, the March of Dimes Foundation, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This page last reviewed on October 3, 2018