Established in 2010, the program provides support for early-stage studies of human diseases using stem cells — research that is less likely to receive support from traditional funding sources but has the potential to significantly advance understanding of human biology. The latest awards bring the total number of Allen Distinguished Investigators to seventy-four.
Recipients of the awards include Samantha Morris (Washington University in St. Louis), who is working to create a "blueprint" that maps how stem cells develop into other cells; Joshua Rabinowitz (Princeton University), whose research on metabolites aims to shed new light on human diseases that involve altered metabolism, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease; Clive Svendsen (Cedars-Sinai), who will use stem cells to model the gut-brain axis and the role of the gut microbiome in Parkinson's disease; Savas Tay (University of Chicago), who is studying gene expression at the individual cell level, research that could lead to a new understanding of Crohn’s and other diseases; and James Wells (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center), whose research is focused on stem cells from patients with genetic disorders that affect their ability to absorb nutrients.
"The field of stem cell biology has the potential to change how we treat diseases by helping precision medicine, and there's so much we still don’t understand about the interplay between cells in living tissues or organs," said Frontiers Group director Kathy Richmond. "Our 2019 Allen Distinguished Investigators are pushing their fields in these two areas, through new technology development, probing pivotal interactions in the body that cause health to fail, and generating creative new stem cell models that will improve our understanding of different human diseases."