Advancing Discovery

Dean’s Innovation Awards paved way for external research funding

Photo illustration of a pipette, some test tubes and a microscope
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The road to illuminating the biological mysteries of the human body is filled with hurdles, not the least of which is the daunting task of obtaining funding to support early-stage discoveries.

At Harvard Medical School, the Dean’s Innovation Awards addressed that challenge by providing catalytic early support for research projects probing some of the most confounding questions in biomedicine, such as the molecular roots of congenital heart disease, what fuels and regulates the brain’s energy consumption, and the interaction between the immune and nervous systems during infection.

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Established by HMS Dean George Q. Daley in 2018, the awards program will conclude in 2023. It was designed to boost discovery science; catalyze collaborations; advance technology development; cultivate promising therapeutics projects; and improve health care quality, delivery, costs, and access. In all, more than $29 million was invested across the HMS community, supporting 92 projects involving 169 project leaders at 15 institutions.

  • 3D rendering of brain cells

    How the brain copes with changing energy demands

    Mass spectrometry metabolomics in brain slice with time- and cell-type resolution
  • Doctor using laptop with stethoscope in hand

    How the immune and nervous systems interact during inflammation

    Neural control of infection responses and sickness behavior
  • Ubiquitin hydrolase detaches ubiquitin from protein

    Probing protein function

    Proteasome regulation and the ubiquitin code
  • illustration of intestine bacteria and gut flora

    Tracking the trillion bugs that live in the intestines

    Immunomodulatory metabolites from human gut bacteria
  • Medical professional prepares equipment for heart surgery

    Understanding how congenital heart disease arises

    Epigenetic landscape of cardiomyocyte differentiation and congenital heart disease