News Release

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NIH Transformative Research Project Awards hasten innovation

The National Institutes of Health will award up to $64 million over five years to encourage exploration of exceptionally innovative and original research ideas that have the potential for extraordinary impact.

The NIH Director's Transformative Research Projects (T-R01) award program allows investigators to sidestep conventional stumbling blocks they often face when applying for funding for high-risk research, such as the need for preliminary data or a restriction on the amount of funds that can be requested. This year, 20 T-R01 award recipients will address challenges in basic science or clinical research.

The T-R01 program, supported by the NIH Common Fund (formerly the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research), is an incomparable NIH research opportunity for investigators. Scientists are spurred to rethink the way science is conducted and propose daring ideas. The awards can provide up to $25 million in total costs each year for a single project.

"Complex research projects, even exceptionally high-impact ones, are tough to get funded without the necessary resources to assemble teams and collect preliminary data. The TR01 awards provide a way for these high impact projects to be pursued," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

The NIH expects to make awards of $12.8 million for new T-R01 projects in fiscal year 2010. The 2010 recipients' names and institutions are listed below.

More information on the Transformative R01 Award is at For descriptions of the 2010 recipients' research plans, see

The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. The Transformative Research Projects (T-R01) 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

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available 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®

2010 NIH Director's Transformative Research Projects Award Recipients

  • Paola Arlotta, Ph.D. and J. Keith Joung, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School;
    and Feng Zhang, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Genome-wide Light-inducible Tuning of Transcriptional Network Dynamic: Identify and apply new technologies that use molecular regulators to regenerate specific components of the nervous system and treat neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Martin J. Blaser, M.D., New York University School of Medicine
    Disappearing Gastrointestinal Microbiota in Epidemic Obesity: Examine how the composition of the human body’s bacterial populations and their genetics have been altered by antibiotic use and other practices, and affect child development and potentially predispose them to obesity.
  • George Coukos, M.D., Ph.D. , University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
    Transformative Personalized Vascular Disrupting Cancer Immunotherapy: Develop a personalized immunotherapy that will attack and destroy the blood vessels of a tumor, leading to collapse of even large tumors, potentially transforming cancer therapy.
  • Andrew Ellington, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
    DNA Circuits for Point-of-Care Diagnostics: Determine if DNA circuits can be used to generate low-cost diagnostics for resource-poor settings and for point-of-care applications.
  • Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine; Madhav Dhodapkar, M.D., Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Conn. and Markus G. Manz, M.D., University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland Understanding Hematopoietic Neoplasias Using Humanized Mice: Engineer mice that have a similar cellular environment to microenvironment humans to improve our understanding of human biology and develop new therapeutic approaches that target cancerous tumors.
  • Pamela J. Green, Ph.D., University of Delaware, Newark
    Global Analysis of the Human RNA Degradome: Advance the understanding of how RNA decay occurs in the body and how changes in RNA decay, on a genome-wide scale, are associated with human diseases.
  • Jaime Grutzendler, M.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
    Embolus Extravasation: An Alternative Mechanism of Microvascular Recanalization: Discover molecular pathways that prevent small blood vessel blockages which may lead to organ damage, and determine the importance of the mechanism for restoring blood vessels and other cells in a variety of organs including the brain.
  • Amy E. Keating, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Very Large Datasets and New Models to Predict and Design Protein Interactions: Apply the power of modern DNA sequencing to accelerate our understanding of protein functions and design custom molecules for research and therapeutic applications.
  • Bryce E. Nickels, Ph.D., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick and Simon L. Dove. Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School
    NanoRNA-mediated Control of Gene Expression: Challenge conventional paradigms about the synthesis of RNA by determining the extent to which small RNA fragments, called nanoRNAs, are used to initiate transcription in cells.
  • Miguel A. Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, N.C.
    Dorsal Column Stimulation as a New Therapy for Motor Disorders: Study dorsal spinal column stimulation as a novel alternative treatment of Parkinson's disease that is minimally invasive, easy to perform, and inexpensive
  • Eugene Oltz, Ph.D. and Jacqueline Payton, M.D., Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis Targeting Epigenomic Signatures in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for Novel Therapeutics: Identify master control regions within non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells that simultaneously activate multiple cancer-causing genes, and use epigenetic (processes that control genes) therapy to target and kill the cancer cells.
  • Gary A. Peltz, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.
    Human Pharmacogenetics and Human Liver Regeneration: Determine whether stem cells obtained from an individual’s own fat can be used for liver transplantation and better predict how drugs will be metabolized and how genetic factors affect drug metabolism.
  • Shai Shaham, Ph.D., Rockefeller University, New York City
    Glial Control of Neuronal Receptive Ending Morphology: Employ the roundworm C. elegans, to unlock some of the secrets of how prior experiences affect the nervous system and influence behavior.
  • Liguo Wang, Ph.D., Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
    Structure of a Membrane Protein in a Lipid Membrane: Cryo-EM Study of the HCN Channel: Create a novel research platform to study the various structures of membrane proteins in their native cellular environments, potentially leading to the identification of new targets for therapy.
  • David B. Weiner, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Medical School
    Development of a Universal Influenza Seasonal Vaccine: Develop a new paradigm for flu vaccination that, if successful, could transform the way seasonal influenza vaccines are produced and used in the United States.
  • Marius Wernig, M.D., Ph.D., and Thomas C. Sudhof, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine
    Direct Conversion of Fibroblasts into Neurons: A Novel Approach to Study Neuropsychiatric Disorder: Develop a new technology that allows the direct conversion of skin cells into functional neuronal cells, to accelerate the study of disease processes in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Mehmet Fatih Yanik, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    High-throughput in Vivo Subcellular-resolution Vertebrate Screening Platform: Develop novel high-throughput technologies for large-scale screening of new drugs for regenerating microsurgically injured spinal cord fibers.
  • Anthony M. Zador, M.D., Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, N.Y.
    High-throughput DNA Sequencing Method for Probing the Connectivity of Neural Circuits at Single-neuron Resolution: Develop a novel high-throughput method for the analysis of brain connectivity to determine if disruption of connectivity may contribute to neuropsychiatric diseases such as autism and schizophrenia.
  • Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Diego; Sheng Ding, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif. and Thomas A. Reh, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
    Regeneration of Retinal Neurons by Chemically Induced Reprogramming of Muller Glia: Discover new avenues for cell-based and small molecule therapies to accelerate the development of approaches to restore visual functions in humans with severe blindness.
  • Xiawei Zhuang, Ph.D. and Xiaoliang S. Xie, Ph.D., Harvard University, Boston
    Dynamic Cellular Architecture of Bacteria by System-wide Super-resolution Imaging: Determine the dynamic cellular architecture of the entire proteome (set of all proteins in cell) of the model bacterial organism E. coli to accelerate understanding of how proteins function normally in cells and become disrupted in disease.