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Vol. LX, No. 18
September 5, 2008

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Spotlight on Innovation at Pioneer Award Symposium

On the front page...

Immerse yourself in innovative research at the fourth annual NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Symposium on Sept. 22 and 23 in the Natcher Conference Center. The event features a keynote address by NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, talks by scientists who received Pioneer Awards in 2007, poster sessions by Pioneer and New Innovator Award recipients, roundtable discussions and ample opportunities for informal interaction.

At the start of the symposium, Zerhouni will announce the 2008 recipients of NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator awards. Both programs support exceptionally creative scientists who take highly innovative, and often unconventional, approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research.


Past Pioneers To Speak at Symposium
  • Dr. Emery N. Brown, Massachusetts General Hospital/Massachusetts Institute of Technology—Imaging Loss of Consciousness Under Anesthesia
  • Dr. Frances E. Jensen, Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School—Understanding Cognitive Consequences of Early Life Epilepsy
  • Dr. Takao K. Hensch, Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School—Epigenetic Control of Critical Period Plasticity
  • Dr. Thomas R. Clandinin, Stanford University—Toward a Genetic Dissection of Visual Computation
  • Dr. Mark J. Schnitzer, Stanford University—New Paradigms for In Vivo Microscopy in Live Subjects
  • Dr. Gina G. Turrigiano, Brandeis University—Mapping the Location of Synaptic Proteins Using Super-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy
  • Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, Boston College/Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital—What Is an Emotion?
  • • Dr. Peter S. Bearman, Columbia University—Social Dynamics and Autism Prevalence • Dr. Marshall S. Horwitz, University of Washington School of Medicine—Inferring Cell Lineage from Somatic Mutations
  • Dr. James J. Collins, Boston University—A Network Biology Approach to Antibiotic Action and Bacterial Defense Mechanisms
  • Dr. Rustem F. Ismagilov, University of Chicago—Space: The Final Frontier
  • Dr. Margaret L. Gardel, University of Chicago—Emergent Behaviors of the Cellular Cytoskeleton

For more information on these Pioneer Award recipients, see

“These awards nurture bold and imaginative ideas that may have more than the usual degree of risk but that, if successful, will have significant scientific impact,” Zerhouni said. “The grants allow recipients to tackle compelling problems, sometimes in entirely new fields, and to follow their scientific instincts, sometimes in unexpected directions.

“This year’s symposium is a great opportunity to hear about their exciting progress in a variety of areas, ranging from microscopy to neurology and behavioral science,” he added.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. each day and talks are grouped thematically. For an agenda, see

Launched in 2004, the Pioneer Award is open to scientists at any career stage and provides $2.5 million in direct costs over 5 years. The New Innovator Award began in 2007 and is reserved for new investigators who have not received an NIH regular research (R01) or similar grant. It provides $1.5 million in direct costs over 5 years.

Both programs are part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and complement other NIH efforts to fund potentially transformative research and support scientists in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Attendance at the symposium is free, registration is not required and all are welcome to attend. The event will also be videocast live and archived at videocast.

Activities of the symposium are supported in part by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. NIHRecord Icon

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