NHGRI 2020 Genomic Innovator Awards

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarding Genomic Innovator Awards to nine institutions to support the research of 12 early career scientists in the field of genomics. The awards total up to $27 million over five years, subject to the availability of funds.

The Genomic Innovator Awards was developed to support innovative work by genomics investigators who are early in their careers and part of consortia or other team-science efforts. Six talented researchers were funded in the first cohort of the program in 2019. In its second year, NHGRI is awarding 12 researchers, each leading inspiring work in various areas genomics, including CRISPR technologies, genomic medicine, and genomic studies in historically marginalized populations.

“The awards reflect a cadre of emerging genomics researchers who are helping to carry the field forward,” said NHGRI Director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. “These recipients are engaged in the highest level of research, and I am sure that their work will contribute to understanding human biology and raising the standard of health for all.”

Unlike more traditional grants, which fund defined research projects, the Genomic Innovator Award provides the researcher with flexibility to pursue innovative research directions in a nimble fashion within a broad scientific area. Past awardees have recognized how the award has transformed their careers.

“For many post-PhD researchers, the road to becoming an independent investigator can be a long and arduous one,” said Gurumurthy Channabasavaiah, Ph.D., core facility director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, and 2019 award recipient. “A recognition such as the Genomic Innovator Award can propel a person’s career in ways that otherwise may be extremely difficult in academia.”

Some awardees have a deep appreciation for the unique value of the Genomic Innovator Award, especially for the research freedom it provides.

Others remarked on how the flexible support has enabled greater acceptance and inclusivity. 

“As a Filipino American in academia, I had often felt like all the odds were against me in a career in science despite my productivity, but this award has provided me, quite literally, the resources to pursue my passion and has made it possible for me to help trainees in their work,” said Eric Gamazon, Ph.D., a researcher at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “For people who may want to apply for the award, my advice is to see your work as part of a community of mentors, trainees, and collaborators who continually amplify its impact and provide a source of inspiration.”

The 2020 Genomic Innovator Awardees and their research interests are:

Jessica ChongJessica Chong, Ph.D.
University of Washington, Seattle

Use quantitative models and machine learning to improve links between phenotypes and genotypes.

Katrina ClawKatrina Claw, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Denver

Understand individual variation in drug response and provide guidelines for applying personalized medicine in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) culture.

Le CongLe Cong, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Develop improved CRISPR tools using experimental methods and computational techniques.

Yarui DiaoYarui Diao, Ph.D.
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Analyze the molecular composition associated with non-coding DNA and RNA sequences.

Jesse EngreitzJesse Engreitz, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Apply CRISPR tools to understand gene regulation related to common, complex diseases.

Audrey HendricksAudrey E. Hendricks, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Denver

Develop efficient methods to improve the use of genetic summary data. 

Billy LauBilly Tsz Cheong Lau, Ph.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Improve understanding of single-cell biology by applying molecular engineering and computational approaches in sequencing.

Jie LiuJie Liu, Ph.D.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Use deep learning approaches to understand the relationship between chromatin state features and chromatin organization.

Craig LoweCraig Lowe, Ph.D.
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Characterize the fastest evolving regions in the human genome.

Christine LuChristine Lu, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston

Pioneer new approaches for efficient, rigorous evaluation of outcomes of genomic medicine policies.

Wouter MeulemanWouter Meuleman, Ph.D.
Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Seattle

Build systems to analyze large groups of genomic datasets to understand the genome’s organizing principles better.

Casey Overby TaylorCasey Overby Taylor, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Develop and evaluate methods to incorporate genomic results in clinical decision support.

NHGRI 2020 Genomic Innovator Awards was last modified: September 11th, 2020 by Staff