Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Adjunct Professor Z. Josh Huang was awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award. The award supports scientists with highly innovative, “high-risk, high-reward” approaches to major challenges in biomedical, social science, and behavioral research. Huang was recognized for developing a new generation of precise cell engineering technologies to study the function of diverse cell types across animal organs and species. His technology will have broad applications in biomedical research, biotechnology, and therapeutics. He says:
“I am honored and excited to receive this prestigious award. This award will support an innovative and potentially high impact research project, which represents a new phase and new direction of an overarching research program that I started at CSHL two decades ago. This award would not have been possible without the ‘long incubation time’ at the Laboratory, which provided an exceptionally stimulating and supportive environment for me to shape my vision and to take the risk and time to try and fail before succeeding.”
Huang leads a section of the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN), a groundbreaking project in neuroanatomy funded by the NIH. The Network aims to provide researchers and the public with a comprehensive database of the diverse cell types in the human, mouse, and non-human primate brain. Huang continues to collaborate with a number of scientists on campus:
“I am maintaining numerous highly fruitful collaborations at CSHL on multiple fronts, including with Jesse (Gillis), Bo (Li), Partha (Mitra), Tony (Zador), Tatiana (Engel), Florin (Albeanu), Linda (Van Aelst), and Pavel (Osten), all leveraging cell type technologies to push the frontiers of brain science. I would like to thank Bruce (Stillman), David (Spector), and Walter (Goldschmidts) for their support and many other colleagues and friends for their intellectual stimulation over my many years at the Laboratory.”
CSHL President and CEO Bruce Stillman says, “Josh has been a pioneer in the field of neuroscience, inventing new ways to visualize cell types, including CellREADR. He has led researchers at the Laboratory in the BICCN and other major collaborative projects. The Pioneer Award is very prestigious and a wonderful source for funding innovative science.”
The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award was established in 2004 under the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. The program encourages creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in biomedical, behavioral, or social science research. In 2021, the NIH awarded 106 grants through the program, which is a part of the NIH Common Fund that oversees programs pursuing major opportunities and gaps throughout many fields of research.