Awards and Grants×

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Four research teams at Columbia University have been awarded the inaugural Edward P. Evans Center for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Pilot Awards and Fellowships.

The center, established by the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) in December 2021, is dedicated to the study and treatment of MDS, a malignant disease that attacks bone marrow stem cells. Each year, more than 40,000 individuals are diagnosed with MDS, and roughly one-third will develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a severe and rapidly progressing form of blood cancer.

To support their research, each team will receive a one-year $100,000 grant for the Edward P. Evans Center Pilot Awards and a two-year $60,000/year grant for the fellowships. The two pilot projects are being led by principal investigators Pawel Muranski, MD, assistant professor of medicine and of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S)Amer Assal, MD, assistant professor of medicine at VP&S; and Raul Rabadan, PhD, professor of systems biology and of biomedical informatics at VP&S. The two fellowships have been awarded to Rossella Labella, PhD, postdoctoral research scientist in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics(link is external and opens in a new window), and Junsong Zhou, PhD, associate research scientist in the Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine

Read full article on HICCC Newsroom.

Michael Shen, PhD, the Arthur J. Antenucci Professor of Medical Sciences and  professor of genetics, urology, and systems biology at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)(link is external and opens in a new window). Dr. Shen, who also co-leads the Tumor Biology and Microenvironment research program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), joins four other Columbia faculty members who have been elected to the 2021 class of AAAS fellows.

Read full article on Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center News Page

 

A discussion with Andrea Califano(link is external and opens in a new window) and narrative medicine writer Rita Charon, "Aflight in ideas and visions, he and his colleagues in systems biology have been soaring toward what Califano predicts as the Golden Age of Biology. Not unlike the golden ages of physics and chemistry, when Newton and Lavoisier broke through conceptual barriers to see with new minds, this age equips biology for flight"

Read full article on Narratives of Discovery page.

December 14, 2021

New award for Chaolin Zhang

Chaolin Zhang, PhD, Associate Professor in Systems Biology will receive $2,766,392 over five years from the National Insititue of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “RNA regulatory networks in neuronal cell type diversity and function”. This award will support Dr. Zhang to understand better post-transcriptional gene expression regulation through specific protein -RNA interactions, or RNA-regulatory networks which is critical for expanding the complexity of the mammalian nervous system with implications in an expanding list of neuronal disorders. The proposed studies will investigate alternative splicing regulation in generating the distinct molecular programs in diverse neuronal cell types of mouse cortex. Information obtained in this project will provide insights into the fundamental mechanisms that controls such diversity as well as the functional consequences in defined, clinically relevant neuronal cell types.

Chaolin Zhang, PhD, Associate Professor in Systems Biology will receive $1,200,000 over three years from The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) via the 2021 Genomics of ASD: Pathways to Genetic Therapies Initiative.  Grants funded through this Initiative are intended to leverage current knowledge about risk genes for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) into the development of new genetic therapies.  Leveraging the target discovery platform developed by the lab, Dr. Zhang’s research goal on this project focuses on restoring functional protein production using antisense oligos (ASOs) by modulating the alternative splicing as potential therapeutics. 

Read full article on Simons Foundation website.

Honoring outstanding postdoctoral scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced the three Winners and six Finalists of the 2021 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. 

Biologists aspire to understand every gene’s contribution to an organism’s biology and behavior. Microbiologist Wenyan Jiang has helped repurpose the CRISPR-Cas system, an immune system of many bacteria, and co-opt it to upgrade the way many scientists control and examine the genome. Jiang developed a groundbreaking tool called CRISPR Adaptation-mediated Library Manufacturing (CALM), which exploits CRISPR RNA, a type of RNA naturally found in bacteria. CALM has enabled scientists to quickly determine the causal link between genes and bacterial behaviors such as antibiotic resistance and pathogenesis and pave the way for developing new, effective antimicrobial drugs. 

Read full article on Blavatnik Award site

September 10, 2021

New award for Harris Wang

Harris Wang receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for the development and application of Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE), a new framework for manipulating DNA to produce synthetic or engineered recombinant genetic material, and for his use of CRISPR technology to track and record transient cellular processes in the human gut microbiome. Born in Beijing, China, Wang is an associate professor at Columbia University in New York.

The 2022 Vilcek Foundation Prizes in Biomedical Science are a part of the Vilcek Foundation Prizes program. In 2022, the foundation is awarding the Vilcek Foundation Prizes in Biomedical Science, the Vilcek Foundation Prizes in Dance, and the Vilcek Prize for Excellence.

See full article on Vilcek Foundation site.

September 7, 2021

New award for Tal Korem

Tal Korem, PhD, Systems Biology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, will receive $3,404,285 over five years from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for "A large scale investigation of the vaginal metagenome and metabolome and their role in spontaneous preterm birth”.
 
This award will support the efforts of the Korem lab, along with Co-Investigators Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann (Department of Medicine) and Dr. Ronald Wapner (Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology), to understand the role of the vaginal microbiome in preterm birth, the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. The investigators will generate a dataset of paired vaginal microbiome and metabolome measurements from samples collected along pregnancy in a large prospective cohort. Using this data, they will seek to identify new biomarkers for early identification of preterm birth and investigate the metabolic mechanisms that potentially underly it. 

Barry Honig, PhD, Systems Biology, will receive $2,025,000 over four years from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for “Genome-Wide Structure-Based Analysis of Protein-Protein Interactions and Networks.”

Read full article in CUIMC Newsroom.

The annual Precision Medicine Pilot Grants have been awarded to five teams of  researchers conducting innovative basic science, translational, and clinical research across multiple diseases. 

Jointly awarded by the Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative (CPMI), the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (Irving Institute), the Precision Medicine Pilot Grants underscore Columbia’s commitment to supporting diverse, cross-disciplinary research targeting the promise of precision medicine.

The five winning teams are being led by faculty at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons (VP&S), including: Srilaxmi Bearelly, MD, associate  professor of ophthalmology; Brian Henick, MD, assistant professor of medicine; Chi-Min Ho, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology; Yufeng Shen, PhD, associate professor of systems biology and of biomedical informatics; and Xuebing Wu, PhD, assistant professor of systems biology and of medicine. The projects being funded are focusing on a range of research, from novel cancer therapeutics to health disparities research. 

The Vagelos Precision Medicine Pilot Grant program is made possible by a generous donation from Roy and Diana Vagelos and is intended to support groundbreaking basic research in the field of precision medicine. Each research team receives $100,000 in funding for one year. The researchers will present their projects at an annual symposium for the precision medicine awards in fall 2022.

Read full article in the HICCC Newsroom

Systems Biology will receive $3,829,859 over five years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Discovery and Analysis of Brain Circuits and Cell Types Affected in Autism and Schizophrenia.” The project will be led by Dennis Vitkup, PhD, and Joseph Gogos, MD, PhD.

Read full article in CUIMC Newsroom.

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