The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today the six pairs of researchers who will make up its 2021 class of Innovation Fund investigators.

These scientists—alumni of Pew’s biomedical programs in the United States and Latin America—will partner on interdisciplinary research to tackle some of the most pressing questions in human biology and disease. By combining their expertise in subjects ranging from microbiology to genetics and from immunology to developmental biology, these researchers will work to advance scientific discovery and improve human health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role innovative biomedical research plays in addressing global health problems,” said Molly Irwin, vice president for research and science at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Pew is proud to support the 2021 class of Innovation Fund investigators, who together will seek to answer some of the most pressing questions in health and science.”

For more than 35 years, Pew has encouraged collaboration among its diverse community of biomedical scientists, culminating in the launch of the Innovation Fund in 2017. The fund’s award criteria were developed to promote synergy among program alumni, motivating researchers to collaborate on new proposals. All alumni holding assistant professor positions or higher are eligible to apply for the award, which is supported by the Kathryn W. Davis Peace by Pieces Fund.

This year’s Innovation Fund teams and research projects are:

Haeger Soto and Krainer will examine the mechanisms through which alcohol consumption during pregnancy leads to neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Lenschow and Kardon will study how the chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen that causes fever, rash, and arthritis in humans, leads to chronic and persistent symptoms even after infection subsides.

Murphy and Grau will explore how beneficial bacteria in the gut influence age-related genes.

Sherwood and Poss will investigate the coordinated signaling events that take place within the body during tissue repair and regeneration.

Ugalde and Arregui will explore the role of bacterial outer membrane vesicles—spherical buds of the bacterial membrane that are enriched with enzymes and toxins—in delivering and introducing virulent factors to host cells.

Ünal and Brar will investigate the stress response pathways in regulating cellular aging and longevity.

Source: Pew Funds Six Teams to Advance Innovative Biomedical Research | The Pew Charitable Trusts