Entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen has announced a ten-year, $100 million commitment to create an organization focused on exploring the landscape of bioscience and funding ideas at the frontiers of knowledge.
To be headquartered in Seattle, the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group will engage in continuous dialogue with scientists, innovators, and visionaries around the world and will work to synthesize their findings with the goal of exposing untapped areas of exploration that can lead to transformational insights and achievements in science.
In conjunction with its launch, the Frontiers Group announced an initial cohort of funded projects, including four new Allen Distinguished Investigators (ADI) and, in partnership with Stanford University and Tufts University, two new Allen Discovery Centers — one, to be led by Stanford's Markus Covert, dedicated to creating multiscale computer models that comprehensively represent large systems of whole cells as well as their dynamic environments and interactions, and the other, led by Tufts' Michael Levin, focused on reading, interpreting, and manipulating the biological code that determines anatomical structure and function during embryogenesis, regeneration, and tumor suppression. Each center will receive $20 million over eight years, with an additional $10 million in so-called partner leverage. The group also announced ADI grants of $1.5 million each to four scientists in the early stages of research that has the potential to reinvent their fields.
"To make the kind of transformational advances we seek and thus shape a better future, we must invest in scientists willing to pursue what some might consider out-of-the-box approaches at the very edges of knowledge," said Allen, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2010. "This of course entails a risk of setbacks and failures. But without risk, there is rarely significant reward, and unless we try truly novel approaches, we may never find the answers we seek."