Alistair Boettiger, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology, received a New Innovator Award, which provides up to $1.5 million over five years to fund innovative research by investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency and who have not yet received a research project grant or the equivalent from the NIH.

Boettiger’s research explores how genomes fold within a cell’s nucleus to affect gene expression.

“Like a book printed on origami, in which folding the pages changes the course of the story, the genomes of higher animals fold to connect or conceal different parts of this genetic blueprint to control cell behavior,” Boettiger said. “My lab is developing new microscopy approaches to observe this folding with detail never before achieved. This award will help us focus this technology on the developing embryos of diverse animal species to better understand the conserved mechanisms that shape genome organization and contribute to cell differentiation. It will also allow us to tap new genome-editing approaches to determine which sequences direct folding decisions.”

The ability to read and understand the distinct three-dimensional blueprints of a single cell will enable researchers to discern the links between an organism’s genome sequence, individual traits and the genetic aspects of health.

Boettiger is a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, a Beckman Young Investigator and a member of Stanford Bio-X.

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