HSCI Faculty "extraordinary" innovation recognized by the NIH

HSCI Faculty ‘extraordinary’ innovation recognized by the NIH

HSCI Principal Faculty members Jeffrey Macklis, Alex Schier and Brian Wainger were recently recognized ‘for exceptional creativity’ by the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. Jeff and Alex each received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award which challenges investigators at all career levels to pursue new research directions and develop groundbreaking, high-impact approaches to a broad area of biomedical or behavioral science.  Brian was bestowed the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award which supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency and have not yet received a research project grant or equivalent NIH grant.

“The program continues to support high-caliber investigators whose ideas stretch the boundaries of our scientific knowledge,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “We welcome the newest cohort of outstanding scientists to the program and look forward to their valuable contributions.”

NIH traditionally supports research projects, not individual investigators. However, the HRHR program seeks to identify scientists with ideas that have the potential for high impact, but may be at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional peer review process. These awards encourage creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in biomedical research.

Macklis, a member of HSCI’s Executive Committee, is the Max and Anne Wien Professor of Life Sciences, and Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology in HSCRB. His lab focuses on: 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. His project title was “Subcellular RNA-Proteome Mapping in Subtype- and Circuit-Specific Growth Cones:  Development, Cell Biology, Disease and Regeneration”.

Schier is the Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology. The Schier Lab has contributed to the understanding of the molecular basis of vertebrate embryogenesis and the neural circuits regulating behavior, and to the development of the zebrafish as a model system. His winning project submission was “DNA-Mediated Recording of Cellular History”.

Wainger is a physician scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Neurology and Anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School. His lab research focuses on modeling motor and sensory neuron diseases using stem cell technology and electrophysiology. His project was titled, “A Human Stem Cell-Derived Neuromuscular Junction Model for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis”.  Wainger is also currently collaborating with HSCI colleagues on a national Phase II clinical trial in ALS.

Link to Harvard Gazette article by Peter Reuell.