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NIH Names 2017 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Grant Winners

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it has awarded more than $260 million in 2017 funding under its High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, including a number of grants supporting omics research.

"I continually point to this program as an example of the creative and revolutionary research the NIH supports," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement. "The quality of the investigators and the impact their research has on the biomedical field is extraordinary."

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program manages four awards: the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award, and the NIH Director's Early Independence Award.

Among this year's recipients of the Pioneer Award are Harvard University's Alexander Schier, who will receive $1.2 million to fund the optimization of DNA-mediated recording technologies and combine them with new approaches in order to gain insights into cellular history; and Broad Institute researcher Feng Zhang, who has been awarded $1.2 million to investigate mobile genetic elements that can be used for precision genome editing.

Winners of the 2017 Innovator Award include Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Paul Blainey, who will receive $2.7 million to develop a live cell transcriptomics technology that enables cells to self-report their internal states in time series measurements; Cornell University's Iwijn De Vlaminck, who has been granted $2.3 million for the development of a single-cell and single-molecule sequencing technology for the precision monitoring of kidney transplants; and the Broad's Evan Macosko, who has been awarded $2.7 million to advance a technology for performing whole-transcriptome analysis of intact brain tissue sections at single-cell resolution.

Other Innovator Award winners for this year include Neville Sanjana of New York University and the New York Genome Center, who was granted $2.9 million to use a series of new technologies — including CRISPR genome editing and single-cell RNA sequencing — to better understand transcriptional regulation; and Cornell's Michael Sheehan, who was awarded $2.4 million to use the paper wasp, which can recognize nest mates by their faces, in order to study the genomics underlying pattern recognition.

And Valerie Anne Arboleda from the University of California, Los Angeles, has won a 2017 Early Independence Award. She will receive $1.9 million for a five-year grant to use functional genomics approaches to understand correlations between Mendelian and common disease.