News Release

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NIH announces 79 awards to encourage creative ideas in science

The National Institutes of Health announced that it is awarding $143.8 million to challenge the status quo with innovative ideas that have the potential to propel fields forward and speed the translation of research into improved health for the American public.

These awards are granted under three innovative research programs supported by the NIH Common Fund: the NIH Director’s Pioneer, New Innovator, and Transformative Research Projects Awards. The Common Fund, enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act, supports trans-NIH programs with a particular emphasis on innovation and risk taking.

"The NIH Director's Award programs reinvigorate the biomedical work force by providing unique opportunities to conduct research that is neither incremental nor conventional," said James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, who guides the Common Fund's High-Risk Research program."The awards are intended to catalyze giant leaps forward for any area of biomedical research, allowing investigators to go in entirely new directions."

Since inception, the NIH Director’s Award Program has funded a total of 406 High-Risk Research awards: 111 Pioneer Awards since 2004, 216 New Innovator Awards since 2007, and 79 Transformative Research Projects Awards since 2009. This tally includes this year's 13 Pioneer Awards, 49 New Innovator Awards, and 17 Transformative Research Projects Awards.

The NIH expects to make competing awards of approximately $10.4 million to Pioneer awardees, $117.5 million to New Innovators, and $15.9 million to Transformative Research Projects awardees in Fiscal Year 2011. The total funding provided to this competing cohort over a five-year period is estimated to be $245.6 million.

The 2011 recipients' names and institutions are listed below.

More information on the Pioneer Award is at including information on this year's awardees and the two-day NIH Director's Pioneer Award Symposium which begins on Thursday, September 20, 2011, and is free and open to the public.

More information on the New Innovator Award is at including information on this year's awardees.

More information on the Transformative Research Projects Award is at including information on this year's awardees.

The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. 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 pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research. 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

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

2011 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Recipients

  • Utpal Banerjee, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D., University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • Jean Bennett, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • William M. Clemons, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
  • Florian Engert, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Andrew P. Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D, University of California, Davis
  • Tao Pan, Ph.D., University of Chicago
  • Sharad Ramanathan, Ph.D., Harvard University
  • David S. Schneider, Ph.D., Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Thanos Siapas, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Andreas S. Tolias, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
  • Mehmet Fatih Yanik, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

2011 NIH Director's New Innovator Award Recipients

  • Stephen G. Aller, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Aaron B. Baker, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
  • Maria Barna, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Uttiya Basu, Ph.D., Columbia University, New York City
  • Nicolas E. Buchler, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, N.C.
  • Long Cai, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
  • Julie C. Canman, Ph.D., Columbia University
  • Erin E. Carlson, Ph.D., Indiana University at Bloomington
  • Edward Chang, Ph.D, University of California, San Francisco
  • John T. Chang, M.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Michelle C. Chang, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • Wei Cheng, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Heather R. Christofk, Ph.D., David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
  • Hunter B. Fraser, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Charles A. Gersbach, Ph.D., Duke University
  • Aron M. Geurts, M.D., Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Nathan C. Gianneschi, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Lea Goentoro, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
  • Ming C. Hammond, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • Songi Han, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Bo Huang, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Christopher Hug, M.D., Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston / Harvard Medical School
  • Hongrui Jiang, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Sundeep Kalantry, Ph.D., University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • Andrea M. Kasko, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Megan C. King, Ph.D., Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • Steven T. Kosak, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
  • Gyanu Lamichhane, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
  • Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D., Duke University School of Medicine
  • Shaun W. Lee, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
  • Erez Lieberman-Aiden, Ph.D., Harvard University / Broad Institute
  • Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Emanual M. Maverakis, M.D., University of California, Davis / VA Northern California Health Care System
  • Douglas A. Mitchell, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Harald C. Ott, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • Timothy P. Padera, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Brian M. Paegel, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Fla.
  • Michael Petrascheck, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
  • Christine Queitsch, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
  • Arjun Raj, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • Christian D. Schlieker, Ph.D., Yale University
  • David M. Tobin, Ph.D., Duke University
  • C. Jason Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Douglas B. Weibel, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Rebecca A. Wingert, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
  • Joy Y. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Joao Xavier, Ph.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York City
  • Qi Zhang, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, Nashville
  • Haining Zhong, Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland

2011 NIH Director's Transformative Research Projects Award Recipients

  • Adela Ben-Yakar, Ph.D. and Jonathan T. Pierce-Shimomura, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
  • Kwabena Boahen, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Richard A. Cerione, Ph.D., Hening Lin, Ph.D., and Robert S. Weiss, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Fred H. Gage, Ph.D., The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
  • Thomas Hartung, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore
  • Richard E. Honkanen, Ph.D., University of South Alabama School of Medicine, Mobile
  • Alan Jasanoff, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Thomas S. Kupper, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital / Dana Farber Brigham and Women's Cancer Center / Harvard Medical School, Boston
  • James F. Leckman, M.D. and Bruce E. Wexler, M.D., Yale University
  • Jeff W. Lichtman, M.D., Ph.D., Markus Meister, Ph.D., Joshua Sanes, Ph.D., Harvard University; and Sebastian Seung, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Todd C. McDevitt, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology / Emory University, Atlanta
  • Vamsi K. Mootha, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School
  • Shuming Nie, Ph.D., Emory University / Georgia Institute of Technology and Sunil Singhal, M.D., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Jan A. Nolta, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
  • F. Nina Papavasiliou, Ph.D., Rockefeller University, New York City
  • Joseph D. Puglisi, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.
  • Margaret Elizabeth Ross, M.D., Ph.D. and Christopher E. Mason, Ph.D., Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City