News Release

Monday, September 30, 2013

NIH Announces 2013 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awards

NIH commits to 78 awards to support exceptional innovation in biomedical research.

Seventy-eight grants are being awarded to scientists proposing highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research, under the High Risk-High Reward program supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.

"NIH is excited to continue support of visionary investigators, among all career stages, pursuing science with the potential to transform scientific fields and accelerate the translation of scientific research into improved health, through the Common Fund’s High Risk-High Reward Research Program,’’ said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "This program allows researchers to propose highly creative research projects across a broad range of biomedical research areas, that involve inherent risk, but have the potential to lead to breakthroughs."

NIH Pioneer, New Innovator, Transformative Research, and Early Independence Awards encourage creative thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas about biomedical and behavioral research. The Pioneer Award, in its 10th year, challenges investigators at all career levels to develop highly innovative approaches that could have a powerful impact on a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research.

The New Innovator Award initiative, established in 2007, supports investigators who are within 10 years of their terminal degree or clinical residency, but who have not yet received a Research Project Grant (R01) or equivalent NIH grant, to conduct exceptionally innovative research.

The Transformative Research Awards program, established in 2009, promotes cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches and is open to individuals and teams of investigators who propose research that could create or challenge existing models.

The Early Independence Award, with the first awards given in 2011, provides an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists, who have recently received their doctoral degree or finished medical residency, to skip traditional post-doctoral training and move immediately into independent research positions.

In 2013, NIH is awarding 12 Pioneer Awards, 41 New Innovator Awards, 10 Transformative Research Awards, and 15 Early Independence Awards. The total funding, which represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund and multiple NIH institutes and centers, is approximately $123 million.

The 2013 recipients' names and institutions are listed below.

2013 NIH Pioneer Award recipients

  • Amy F.T. Arnsten, Ph.D., Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Vadim N. Gladyshev, Ph.D., Brigham And Women's Hospital, Boston
  • Baljit Khakh, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
  • Michael Z. Lin, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
  • Jay Ashok Shendure, M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
  • Natalia A. Trayanova, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • Fan Wang, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, N.C.
  • Leor S Weinberger, Ph.D., Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco
  • Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Rafael M Yuste, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University New York Morningside, New York City
  • Mark J Zylka, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.

2013 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award recipients

  • Hillel Adesnik, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Jennifer Ahern, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • Sara J Aton, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Bree Beardsley Aldridge, Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston
  • Catherine A Blish, MD, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Jason Michael Crawford, Ph.D., Yale University
  • Arvin Dar, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City
  • Rahul Chandrakant Deo, MD, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Maximilian Diehn, MD, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Jeffrey D Dvorin, MD, Ph.D., Boston Children's Hospital
  • Aaron Palmer Esser-Kahn, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
  • Scott E Evans, MD, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • Dorothea Fiedler, Ph.D., Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
  • Adam Frost, MD, Ph.D., University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • Sunil Gandhi, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
  • Zev Jordan Gartner, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Robert D Gregg, Ph.D., University of Texas, Dallas
  • Scott B Hansen, Ph.D., Scripps, Jupiter, Fla.
  • Tracey Jane Lamb, Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta
  • Julius Beau Lucks, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y,
  • Linsey Marr, Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
  • Houra Merrikh, Ph.D., University of Washington
  • Seyed Ali Mortazavi, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
  • Ryan O'Connell, Ph.D., University of Utah
  • Jukka-Pekka Onnela, D.Sc., Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
  • Christian Petersen, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
  • Shelly R Peyton, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Vanessa Ruta, Ph.D., Rockefeller University, New York City
  • Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., Columbia University, New York City
  • Shomyseh Sanjabi, Ph.D., Gladstone Institutes
  • Elizabeth Susan Sattely, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • David Frank Savage, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • Marco Seandel, M.D., Ph.D., Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City
  • Sivaraj Sivaramakrishnan, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Derek James Taylor, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland
  • Anna DeGraff Tischler, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Kay Maxine Tye, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Viviana Gradinaru, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
  • Richard Mark White, MD, Ph.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York City
  • Wilson Wong, Ph.D., Boston University (Charles River Campus)
  • Ying Zheng, Ph.D., University of Washington

2013 NIH Transformative Research Award recipients

  • Peng Yin, Ph.D., Harvard University (Medical School), Boston
  • Molly L Carnes, M.D., Patricia G Devine, Ph.D., Cecilia E Ford, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Konrad P. Kording, Ph.D., Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Edward S. Boyden, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; George M Church, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
  • Gail Mandel, Ph.D., John P Adelman, Ph.D., Paul Brehm, Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland; Joshua J.C. Rosenthal, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico, San Juan
  • Augusto C. Ochoa, M.D., Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans
  • David Arnold Relman, M.D., Palo Alto Institute for Research and Education, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.; Susan P Holmes, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Alice Y. Ting, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Lihong Wang, Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis
  • Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., Thomas A. Rando, M.D., Ph.D., Palo Alto Institute for Research and Education Inc., and Stanford University
  • Demetri Yannopoulos, M.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

2013 NIH Director’s Early Independence Award recipients

  • Gregory M Alushin, Ph.D., National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md.
  • Isabelle Rhyssa Joe Eduria Baconguis, Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University
  • Hans Tomas Bjornsson, M.D., Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University
  • Meredith M Bruening, Ph.D., Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Hannah Kathryn Carter, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Christine Ann Denny, Ph.D., Columbia University Health Sciences, New York City
  • Elaine Hsiao, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
  • Anupam Bapu Jena, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
  • Sebastian Lourido, Ph.D., Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Jonathan F Lovell, Ph.D., State University of New York, Buffalo
  • William Ludington, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • David Pincus, Ph.D., Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research
  • Lei Stanley Qi, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Eric T Wang, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • David Eric Weinberg, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco

More information on the NIH High Risk-High Reward Research Program is at:, including links to award program page, which contain information on current and past awardees, and funding opportunities.

The NIH Common Fund supports a series of exceptionally high impact research programs that are broadly relevant to health and disease. The NIH Director's awards Program is funded through the Common Fund and managed by the NIH Office of the Director in partnership with the various NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. Common Fund programs are designed to overcome major research barriers and pursue emerging opportunities for the benefit of the biomedical research community at large. The research products of Common Fund programs are expected to catalyze disease-specific research supported by the NIH Institutes and Centers. Additional information about the NIH Common Fund can be found at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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