Inaugural Blavatnik Therapeutics Challenge Awards recipients announced

Inaugural Blavatnik Therapeutics Challenge Awards recipients announced

Harvard Medical School has announced the inaugural recipients of the Blavatnik Therapeutics Challenge Awards.

Funded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by HMS, the BTCA program is aimed at accelerating therapeutics research across HMS and its affiliated hospitals, helping investigators navigate the intricacies of intellectual property development and licensing and catalyzing the creation of new companies. In the program's inaugural cycle, five research teams will each receive $1 million over two years, along with support and guidance from the recently launched HMS Translator, an accelerator program focused on advancing drug discovery efforts at the school. 

The principal investigators for the five winning projects are Daniel Bauer, HMS associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, whose team will work to correct common genetic mutations implicated in severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) through the gene editing of the stem cells that produce white blood cells; Elliot Chaikof, HMS Johnson and Johnson Professor of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, whose project is focused on developing new therapeutics to prevent cancer-associated venous thromboembolism (VTE); Christiane Ferran, HMS Lewis Thomas Professor of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess, whose team is developing a gene therapy approach with the potential to serve as one of the first alternatives to insulin therapy for Type 1 diabetes; Steven Greenberg, HMS professor of neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who is working to develop novel biologics that target the underlying cellular mechanisms of severe asthma and other inflammatory diseases; and Peter Park, professor of biomedical informatics at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, whose team is working to restore the normal function of a gene that, when defective, is a leading factor in a subtype of frontotemporal dementia.

"Ours is an era marked by a dizzying pace of scientific discovery, and it is imperative that we bring boundary-pushing innovations to bear on recalcitrant diseases," said HMS dean George Q. Daley. "These awards are intended to propel promising therapies that stem from the curiosity-driven, fundamental science of HMS researchers to the clinic to serve patients and their families."

"Investing in exceptional promise." Harvard Medical School press release 10/29/2020.