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Noman Khan

Media Relations & Content Marketing Specialist , University of Utah Health
Phone: 801-587-7319

Sep 19, 2019 10:00 AM

PHILADELPHIA—The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today the six pairs of researchers who will make up its 2019 class of Innovation Fund investigators.

These investigators—alumni of Pew’s biomedical programs in the United States and Latin America—partner on interdisciplinary research to tackle some of the most complex questions in human biology and disease. Spanning the spectrum from virology to epigenetics and from microbiology to developmental biology, research teams combine multiple disciplines to advance scientific discovery and improve human health.

“By leveraging Pew’s biomedical network of over 1,000 scientists, researchers with shared goals can combine expertise to help answer science’s most challenging questions,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “We are proud to support this year’s class of investigators in their joint efforts to unlock groundbreaking discoveries.”

For nearly 35 years, Pew has encouraged collaboration among its diverse community of biomedical scientists, culminating in the launch of the Innovation Fund in 2017. The fund’s award criteria were developed to promote synergy among program alumni, motivating researchers to collaborate on new proposals. All alumni holding assistant professor positions or higher are eligible to apply for the award, which is supported by the Kathryn W. Davis Peace by Pieces Fund.

This year’s Innovation Fund teams and research projects are:

Wesley Sundquist, Ph.D., Pew scholar adviser; University of Utah

Nels C. Elde, Ph.D., 2012 Pew biomedical scholar; University of Utah

Sundquist and Elde will evaluate a protein found in certain kinds of monkeys that is known to provide resistance against viral infections and determine whether it is able to do the same in other animals.

Ariel A. Bazzini, Ph.D., 2010 Pew Latin American fellow; Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Diego E. Alvarez, Ph.D., 2009 Pew Latin American fellow; National University of San Martín

Bazzini and Alvarez will investigate how the dengue virus manipulates host cells in order to replicate during infection.

Fernando Camargo, Ph.D., 2010 Pew biomedical scholar; Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University

Alexander A. Gimelbrant, Ph.D., 2010 Pew biomedical scholar; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Camargo and Gimelbrant will explore how genetically identical organisms can look and function differently.

Jeannie T. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., 1999 Pew biomedical scholar; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University

Raymond J. Kelleher III, M.D., Ph.D., 2006 Pew biomedical scholar; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University

Drs. Lee and Kelleher will study how the inheritance of the X chromosome from either the mother or father influences behavior and cognition, using Turner syndrome as a model. 

Ruth Lehmann, Ph.D., Pew scholar adviser; New York University

Agnel Sfeir, Ph.D., 2014 Pew-Stewart scholar; New York University

Lehmann and Sfeir will develop tools to examine how mitochondrial DNA is inherited by offspring.   

Julie K. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., 2007 Pew biomedical scholar; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Nicole King, Ph.D., 2004 Pew biomedical scholar; University of California, Berkeley

Pfeiffer and King will explore the innate immune response in aquatic, unicellular organisms called choanoflagellates.  

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