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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $52M in Grants for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

This article has been update from a previous versiont to reflect corrected funding amounts provided by CZI.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced today that its CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network has awarded about $52 million to more than two dozen research initiatives, several of which are leveraging genomics and related technologies.

The initiative is providing 17 awards worth $2.5 million each to early-career investigators and nine awards worth just over $1 million each to collaborative research teams. The funding will support studies into the underlying causes of neurodegenerative disorders, and represent the first round of funding under this initiative following an open request for applications issued earlier this year.

Recipients of the collaborative science awards include a team from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that is using proteomics and RNA sequencing to identify potential biomarkers of Parkinson's disease in blood-borne extracellular vesicles; and a group of Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University scientists using single-cell sequencing, bioinformatics, and other technologies to analyze genetic alterations in Parkinson's disease.

Winners of the early career acceleration awards include University of California, Los Angeles investigator Inma Cobos, who is using single-cell technologies to study transcriptome changes associated with tau pathology in Alzheimer's disease; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Molly Gale Hammell, who is developing machine learning software to identify genetic factors involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using datasets generated with the New York Genome Center; University of California, San Francisco scientist Martin Kampmann, who is using a CRISPR-based functional genomic platform in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons and glia to study the mechanisms of neurodegeneration; and Harvard's Debora Marks, who is using computer modeling and machine learning to identify patterns in genomic data linked to neurodegenerative disease.

"Despite tremendous investment and progress in understanding these diseases, there remains a surprising amount of very basic information about their biology that we don't know," CZI Science Program Officer Katja Brose said in a statement. "By supporting these interdisciplinary collaborations and generating shared tools, resources and platforms, we hope to inspire a new approach to tackling neurodegenerative disease — one that leverages the combined power of basic science and technology to accelerate progress towards clinical goals."