PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators

Research funding will support four projects focused on extracellular vesicles and three on sex hormones

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators
2023-11-21
(Press-News.org)

SEATTLE, WASH.—November 21, 2023—Uncovering biological properties of extracellular vesicles, which play a vital role in how cells communicate, and understanding how sex hormones drive behavior and development are two areas that the new cohorts of Allen Distinguished Investigators will research, thanks to over $10 million in funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The 18 researchers will develop technologies, design approaches, and uncover insights into fundamental areas of human biology.

2023 Allen Distinguished Investigators

Kenneth Witwer, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Angela M. Zivkovic, Ph.D., University of California, Davis Wyatt N. Vreeland, Ph.D., National Institute of Standards and Technology Shinichi Kano, M.D., Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham Andrew Chisholm, Ph.D., University of California San Diego Ann Wehman, Ph.D., University of Denver Marni D. Boppart, Sc.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Stephen A. Boppart, M.D., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Annegret Falkner, Ph.D., Princeton University Stephanie Correa, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles Ed van Veen, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles Boris Novakovic, Ph.D., Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Ada Cheung, Ph.D., University of Melbourne Rachel Davey, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, Austin Health, University of Melbourne Musa M. Mhlanga, Ph.D., Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences Mijo Simunovic, Ph.D., Columbia University Elham Azizi, Ph.D., Columbia University José L. McFaline-Figueroa, Ph.D., Columbia University

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will award $1.5 million to seven research projects which 18 researchers will lead. Together, these awards represent a total of approximately $10.5 million in funding from the Foundation, as recommended by The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, to support cutting-edge, early-stage research projects that promise to advance the fields of biology and medicine. The seven awarded projects were selected from open calls for proposals in two fields: extracellular vesicles and sex hormones. When considering funding areas, The Frontiers Group looks for emerging fields where an investment could be catalytic to advance scientific progress—not just for awardees, but for all in that particular field.

“Our two newest cohorts of Allen Distinguished Investigators are using innovative technologies and unprecedented ambition to pioneer new frontiers in the fields of sex hormones and extracellular vesicles. These discoveries have the potential to not only change and challenge our current understanding of basic biological principles but also are poised to reveal significant implications in human health.” said Kathy Richmond, Ph.D., M.B.A., Executive Vice President and Director of the Frontiers Group and the Office of Science and Innovation at the Allen Institute.

 

Meet the New Allen Distinguished Investigators Researching Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular vesicles hold huge promise as a means of therapeutic delivery; however, their diversity and a lack of understanding of their basic biology are hindering progress. This cohort seeks to elucidate fundamental principles of the biology of extracellular vesicles in a variety of contexts, including the development of technologies to better visualize and track them in living organisms.

Composition and functionality of the EV corona: learning from lipoproteins

Kenneth Witwer, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Angela M. Zivkovic, Ph.D., University of California, Davis Wyatt N. Vreeland, Ph.D., National Institute of Standards and Technology

In this project, researchers will investigate a recently recognized feature of extracellular vesicles (EVs) known as the “EV corona,” a layer of molecules that may imbue EVs with specialized properties. Researchers will use advanced analytical methods to detect and identify the molecules of the EV corona and map them with unprecedented detail. Additionally, they will bioengineer EVs by linking their surfaces directly to specific proteins of the corona to disguise the EVs from the body’s immune system. Doing so is important because EVs can be used to diagnose and treat diseases; however, exogenous EVs may be attacked by the immune system before their therapeutic benefits can be exerted. Allowing them to remain in the body longer could lead to better therapies and treatments for disease.

Blood-brain Barrier communication via extracellular vesicles underlying brain function and behavior

Shinichi Kano, M.D., Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham

A significant challenge with treatments for brain disorders is the lack of efficient drug delivery systems into the brain. As part of this research project, Shinichi Kano and his team will examine the mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles (EVs) can cross the blood-brain barrier to gain entry into the brain and identify the core molecules of EVs and their recipient cells that allow them to influence neurons. The proposed study will reveal new insights into the foundational mechanisms by which EVs act within the body. The study will also generate extensive datasets that could contribute to developing novel EV-inspired drug delivery systems for the brain.

Extracellular vesicles in maintenance of neuronal circuitry

Andrew Chisholm, Ph.D., University of California San Diego Ann Wehman, Ph.D., University of Denver

In this project, researchers will examine the role extracellular vesicles (EVs) play in helping neurons maintain their shape. Failure to maintain neuronal shape can lead to impaired brain function or neurodegeneration. Changes in the function of proteins that regulate EV release can restore healthy neuron shape in animals, suggesting regulation of EVs maintains neuronal shape. Moreover, researchers have found that such EV regulators affect the shape of other cell types such as skin or germ cells. This project will take a multidisciplinary approach including microscopy, protein design, and genetics to learn how these factors affect cellular shape in worms and mammals and develop novel probes for EV-related lipids. The results may reveal how EVs contribute to neuronal resilience, with implications for brain health.

Real-time label-free dynamic imaging of extracellular vesicles in live tissues

Marni D. Boppart, Sc.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Stephen A. Boppart, M.D., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Researchers Marni and Stephen Boppart will use next-generation, multimodal, nonlinear optical microscopy techniques to obtain real-time, dynamic images of EVs in living tissues and use this advanced platform to identify the role EVs play in human aging. Recent studies suggest that aged cells secrete EVs carrying materials that promote aging throughout the body. However, no tools currently exist to effectively study EVs in the natural tissue microenvironment. This project will not only yield a powerful microscopy platform that will provide the first visualization of EV dynamics within a complex living tissue microenvironment but will also provide new insight regarding fundamental EV biology in the context of multiple conditions, including aging and disease.

 

Meet the Allen Distinguished Investigators Researching Sex Hormones

Researchers in this cohort are uncovering the cellular and molecular actions of sex hormones outside of reproduction and reproduction-related development. Their work addresses a key need to deepen our understanding of how sex hormones affect many biological processes. These new discoveries have the potential to impact human health, including diagnostics and treatment. 

Optical tools for visualizing sex hormones as drivers of dynamic internal states

Annegret Falkner, Ph.D., Princeton University Stephanie Correa, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles Ed van Veen, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

This project seeks to understand the relationship between hormones, neural activity, and behavior. Researchers will develop an all-optical platform for recording hormone-related signaling in the brain that can be combined with existing optical methods for recording neural activity. The platform will allow researchers to directly observe the relationship between hormone effects and brain state. This work represents a collaborative effort between three labs with extensive experience in molecular tool development, longitudinal imaging and computation, and neuroendocrinology. The collaboration will improve the ability to track hormone signaling across the lifespan in order to shed light on the diverse roles of sex hormones in health and disease.

Understanding the effects of Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) on immune function using a systems immunology approach

Boris Novakovic, Ph.D., Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Ada Cheung, Ph.D., University of Melbourne Rachel Davey, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, Austin Health, University of Melbourne Musa M. Mhlanga, Ph.D., Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences

There are well known differences between how male and female immune systems function. For example, females show lower COVID-19 mortality and lower rates of cardiovascular disease than males, but have higher rates of auto-immune disease. It is also known that sex hormones can influence immune function, but how they do this in the context of infection and inflammatory disease is unclear. In this project, researchers will investigate how sex hormones (estradiol and testosterone) change the immunity of transgender individuals undergoing gender affirming hormone therapy. This longitudinal approach will allow researchers to study the action of sex hormones beyond the population level, and to dive deeper into how circulating sex hormones affect individual immune responses. Insights from this study could be used to improve health outcomes for transgender individuals and provide greater understanding into the action of sex hormones on immunity more generally.

Sex hormone morphogenesis: a new frontier in studying organ development

Mijo Simunovic, Ph.D., Columbia University Elham Azizi, Ph.D., Columbia University José L. McFaline-Figueroa, Ph.D., Columbia University

How sex hormones influence organ development in the early embryo is not fully understood, but it is believed that they play an important role as a signaling molecule in early development. In this project, researchers will develop an in vitro platform that combines stem cell models of human development, high-throughput genome editing at the single-cell level, and novel machine learning approaches to precisely define how sex hormones participate in cellular differentiation during organ development. This new embryomimetic platform has the potential to reveal unexpected connections between sex hormones and biochemical signaling, which could integrate sex hormone signaling within the broader efforts of mapping the human body.

The Allen Distinguished Investigator program was launched in 2010 by the late philanthropist Paul G. Allen to back creative, early-stage research projects in biology and medical research that would not otherwise be supported by traditional research funding programs. Including the new awards, a total of 130 Allen Distinguished Investigators have been appointed during the past 12 years. Each award spans three years of research funding.

About The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group
The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, is dedicated to exploring the landscape of bioscience to identify and foster ideas that will change the world. The Frontiers Group recommends funding to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which then invests through award mechanisms to accelerate our understanding of biology, including: Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research; and Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and potential impact. The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group was founded in 2016 by the late philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen. For more information, visit alleninstitute.org/division/frontiers-group/

# # #

Media Contact
Peter Kim, Sr. Manager, Media Relations
206.605.9884 | peter.kim@alleninstitute.org

END


[Attachments] See images for this press release:
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators 2 The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators 3

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Novel AI system could diagnose autism much earlier

Novel AI system could diagnose autism much earlier
2023-11-21
CHICAGO – A newly developed artificial intelligence (AI) system that analyzes specialized MRIs of the brain accurately diagnosed children between the ages of 24 and 48 months with autism at a 98.5% accuracy rate, according to research being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Mohamed Khudri, B.Sc., a visiting research scholar at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, was part of a multi-disciplinary team that developed the three-stage system to analyze and classify diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI) of the brain. DT-MRI is a special technique that detects how water travels along white matter tracts in the brain. “Our ...

MRI reveals brain activity behind fanaticism

MRI reveals brain activity behind fanaticism
2023-11-21
CHICAGO – Soccer fans exhibit different patterns of brain activation while watching a match that may trigger positive and negative emotions and behaviors, according to research being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). The researchers say the implication of these findings could extend beyond sports to fanaticism in other areas, such as politics. “This study aims to shed light on the behaviors and dynamics associated with extreme rivalry, aggression and social affiliation within and between groups of fanatics,” said the study’s lead author, Francisco Zamorano ...

Computer simulation suggests mutant strains of COVID-19 emerged in response to human behavior

Computer simulation suggests mutant strains of COVID-19 emerged in response to human behavior
2023-11-21
Using artificial intelligence technology and mathematical modeling, a research group led by Nagoya University has revealed that human behavior, such as lockdowns and isolation measures, affect the evolution of new strains of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, developed to become more transmissible earlier in its lifecycle. The researcher’s findings, published in Nature Communications, provide new insights into the relationship between how people behave and disease-causing agents.    As with any other living organism, viruses evolve over time. Those with survival advantages become dominant in the gene pool. Many environmental factors ...

Babies as young as four months show signs of self-awareness - study

Babies as young as four months show signs of self-awareness - study
2023-11-21
Babies as young as four months old can make sense of how their bodies interact with the space around them, according to new research from the University of Birmingham. The findings, published today (21 November 2023) in Scientific Reports, shed new light on how self-awareness develops. Experts from the Birmingham BabyLab showed babies a ball on a screen moving towards or away from them. When the ball was closest to them on the screen, the babies were presented with a ‘touch’ (a small vibration) on their hands, whilst their brain activity was being measured. The data collection for the study was conducted at Goldsmiths (University of London). The researchers ...

Trilobites rise from the ashes to reveal ancient map

Trilobites rise from the ashes to reveal ancient map
2023-11-21
Ten newly discovered species of trilobites, hidden for 490 million years in a little-studied part of Thailand, could be the missing pieces in an intricate puzzle of ancient world geography. Trilobites are extinct sea creatures with half-moon-shaped heads that breathed through their legs. A 100-page monograph in the British journal offers great detail about the new species, including one named in honor of Thai Royal Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The trilobite fossils were trapped between layers of petrified ash in sandstone, ...

Novel research unveils methodological approach to study why some individuals are prone to weight gain, while others are protected from weight gain

2023-11-21
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Even though it’s known that people who have a higher genetic risk for obesity generally have a higher body mass index (BMI), researchers have unveiled a new methodological approach to find out why some individuals are more susceptible to weight gain than others for reasons not related to their genetic liability to obesity, according to a study published in Obesity, The Obesity Society’s (TOS) flagship journal. The study is the first of its kind to determine in a pair of twins with large intrapair BMI differences whom of the co-twins had acquired a BMI that deviated from their genetically-informed BMI. “This novel approach opens doors ...

Trial to prevent sudden death after a heart attack enrols first patient

2023-11-21
Sophia Antipolis – 21 November 2023:  The first clinical trial to challenge the routine implantation of a defibrillator in myocardial infarction survivors with heart failure has enrolled its first patient. The PROFID EHRA trial is part of the EU-funded PROFID project, which aims to personalise the prevention of sudden cardiac death after myocardial infarction and involves a consortium of 21 multidisciplinary partners including the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Sudden cardiac death is a major public health problem ...

High temperatures may have caused over 70,000 excess deaths in Europe in 2022

2023-11-21
The burden of heat-related mortality during the summer of 2022 in Europe may have exceeded 70,000 deaths according to a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a research centre supported by the “la Caixa” Foundation. The authors of the study, published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe, revised upwards initial estimates of the mortality associated with record temperatures in 2022 on the European continent. In an earlier study, published in Nature Medicine, the same team used epidemiological models applied to weekly temperature and mortality data in 823 regions in 35 European countries and estimated the number ...

Toward sustainable energy applications with breakthrough in proton conductors

Toward sustainable energy applications with breakthrough in proton conductors
2023-11-21
Donor doping into a mother material with disordered intrinsic oxygen vacancies, instead of the widely used strategy of acceptor doping into a material without oxygen vacancies, can greatly enhance the conductivity and stability of perovskite-type proton conductors at intermediate and low temperatures of 250–400 °C, as demonstrated by Tokyo Tech scientists (e.g. 10 mS/cm at 320 °C). This innovative approach provides a new design direction for proton conductors for fuel cells and electrolysis cells. Many countries in the world are pushing for the development ...

Apology psychology: Breaking gender stereotypes leads to more effective communication

2023-11-21
Saying "I'm sorry," especially in the workplace, can be tricky terrain. Delivering an effective apology can help resolve conflicts, restore trust and promote collaboration among coworkers. But what works best? A research team including a University of Arizona faculty member says that to make your next apology more effective, use language that goes against gender stereotypes. Sarah Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Management and Organizations in the Eller College of Management, said the team wanted to ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Breakthrough in nanoscale force measurement opens doors to unprecedented biological insights

Scientists discover new behavior of membranes that could lead to unprecedented separations

When inflicting pain on others pays off T

The Lancet: Managing gestational diabetes much earlier in pregnancy can prevent complications and improve long-term health outcomes, experts say

New study finds dinosaur fossils did not inspire the mythological griffin

NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg to deliver keynote address at ISSRDC focused on developing a space workforce

Study: Fatigue-management training improved sleep, safety, well-being for Seattle police

Guiding humanity beyond the moon: OHIO’s Nate Szewczyk and students coauthor papers published in “Nature” journals that revolutionize human space biology

Grant supports research to identify barriers to health care for Black women

Scientists at uOttawa develop innovative method to validate quantum photonics circuits performance

New report on community-centered approach to providing vaccine education and resources to persons experiencing homelessness during COVID-19

Government updates race and ethnicity data collection standards: implications and insights

Dr. Vivek S. Kavadi named CEO of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

Dietary sucrose determines activity of lithium on gene expression and lifespan in drosophila melanogaster

Assessment of CEA, CA-125, and CA19-9 as adjuncts in non-small cell lung cancer management

Iron meteorites hint that our infant solar system was more doughnut than dartboard

Anti-trust regulators should consider their options carefully when start-ups are acquired, new study suggests

Family conditions may have more of an impact on upward social mobility than gender inequality

People with higher weight, and those who have high-quality experiences with higher-weight people, report less weight bias, per social psychology study of US adults

In two separate clinical studies, combined immunotherapy approach enhances cancer patient response

Airborne mapping reveals roles for biogenic sources and temperature in air pollution emissions in Los Angeles

Old bombs reveal new insights: Plants store more carbon, but for a shorter time frame, than we thought

The time it takes a person to decide can predict their preference

Hurricane changed ‘rules of the game’ in monkey society

Researchers widely observe yet seldom publish about same-sex sexual behavior in primates and other mammals - often because it is perceived to be rare

Wild chimpanzees seek out medicinal plants to treat illness and injuries

New catalyst unveils the hidden power of water for green hydrogen generation

Supermassive black hole appears to grow like a baby star

Early detection crucial in bile duct cancer for patients with rare liver disease

BCMA-CD19 bispecific CAR-T therapy in refractory chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

[Press-News.org] The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards $10.5 million to new Allen Distinguished Investigators
Research funding will support four projects focused on extracellular vesicles and three on sex hormones