Arc Institute announces new cohort of Investigators to pursue curiosity-driven research

September 20, 2023

Alanna Schepartz
Photo: Professor Alanna Schepartz, Ph.D., T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Professor of MCB at UC Berkeley, is among the first cohort of ARC Innovation Investigators.

  • Dr. Hani Goodarzi, Ph.D. joins as Core Investigator, and Dr. Jingtian Zhou, Ph.D., joins as Arc’s first Science Fellow
  • Innovation Investigator Program welcomes nine faculty members from Stanford University, UC San Francisco, and UC Berkeley, and 11 partner university faculty receive Ignite Awards, in support of visionary science
  • All Arc Institute scientists receive no-strings-attached funding to tackle their most important ideas
  • Call for applications for 2024 cohort of Core Investigators and Science Fellows now open

Today, Arc Institute, the scientific research organization pioneering new models for scientific discovery and translation, is announcing the selection of its new cohort of fully funded Core Investigators and first Science Fellow, along with its first Innovation Investigators and Ignite Award Recipients.

Through these flagship programs, Arc equips leading researchers to pursue their most groundbreaking work through flexible funding, cutting-edge experimental and computational technology, and avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration. By providing them with these tools and resources, Arc enables scientists to undertake research beyond the scope of what's typically feasible in traditional academic environments.

Launched in December 2021 in Palo Alto, California, Arc’s team now consists of more than 100 scientists, engineers, and operators.

The intentional growth of Arc’s scientific community means significantly more touchpoints for convergence across complementary research areas including neuroscience, immunology, computational science, human genetics, chemical biology, and technology development.

“Our goal is to give talented scientists the ability to make ambitious, long-term scientific bets, while facilitating access to the state-of-the-art technology, resources and multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment that we believe is key to accelerating discovery,” said Silvana Konermann, Arc Executive Director, Co-Founder and Core Investigator. “As we welcome the newest members of our science community, we’re eager to create more synergistic touchpoints within Arc and with our partner universities to pursue our shared mission of tackling complex diseases.”

Introducing Arc’s new Core Investigator

Arc’s Core Investigators are at the heart of research at Arc. They set the direction for the creative, big-picture science happening at the Institute and have complete autonomy to pursue their biggest ideas. Core Investigators are appointed for eight-year renewable terms and receive a guaranteed annual budget, with funding available to support labs of up to 20 people.

Arc’s new Core Investigator is Hani Goodarzi, Ph.D., an Associate Professor for the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Hani stands out for his innovative, technically complex, and multidisciplinary work, and for his vision of doing expansive science that extends beyond his own lab. Using a multidisciplinary and systems biology approach, Hani’s research integrates machine learning models and experimental frameworks to understand the deep workings of cancer progression and metastasis. “Entrenched scientific challenges can be solved by people of different backgrounds and expertise tackling them together,” Hani said. “Our lab’s systems-agnostic, bottom up approach to understanding cancer metastasis will be further enabled by Arc’s technological and computational resources and our shared belief in collaborative and adventurous science.” 

Arc’s Science Fellow program supports outstanding early-career researcher

Arc’s Science Fellows Program is designed to support early-career researchers who have the vision and exceptional track record to transition into a principal investigator role directly after doctoral training. During their five-year terms, Fellows will develop an innovative, independent research program and collaborate with the Arc community while each leading a small team of researchers. They also receive leadership training, salary, and full research resources.

Arc’s first Science Fellow is Jingtian Zhou, Ph.D., who joins from Joseph Ecker’s laboratory at the Salk Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and earned his PhD in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Jingtian’s work is at the forefront of developing new algorithms that advance understanding of neural cell types, connectivities, and their development at the molecular resolution and whole-genome scale. His research aims to push forward the understanding of gene regulatory networks in  complex diseases. While at Arc, he plans to combine genetic screening with single-cell multiomic approaches, conduct quantitative analyses of the interaction between epigenome and transcriptome during tissue development, and establish computational frameworks for modeling the effects of genetic variants on different molecular modalities

Growing Arc’s science community with Arc Innovation Investigator Program and Ignite Awards

Arc Innovation Investigators are researchers from partner universities—Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UCSF—who receive $1 million in unrestricted funding over five years to pursue curiosity-driven, ambitious research. While maintaining their lab and position at their university, Innovation Investigators will be key contributors to the Arc’s scientific community and have the opportunity to collaborate closely with Arc scientists. They will also benefit from access to Arc’s equipment, technology, and facilities, as well as community building and scientific events at Arc. The Program facilitates high-cadence scientific interactions among Innovation Investigators and Core Investigators, creating further channels for impactful discovery.

The Innovation Investigators are:

Zhenan Bao, Ph.D., Professor of Chemical Engineering and by courtesy, of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University

The Bao Lab is a multidisciplinary team of chemical engineers, chemists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and bioengineers. They develop flexible and stretchable materials, sensors, actuators, integrated circuits and energy devices inspired by properties and functions of human skin. The aim is to invent tools to enable seamless bidirectional communication between human and surroundings. This will allow them to develop effective treatment methods for neurological disorders.

Iain Clark, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley

Research in the Clark Lab combines multiple disciplines—molecular biology, microfluidics, engineering, and bioinformatics—to develop new single cell genomics tools. Current work focuses on understanding how HIV evades the immune system and elucidating cellular interactions that control neurologic diseases.

Nathanael Gray, Ph.D., Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology at Stanford University

The Gray Lab develops first-in-class chemical probes that are used to gain new biological insights into cellular processes that drive cancer and other diseases, and to pharmacologically validate potential clinically relevant targets. The lab uses the tools of synthetic chemistry, protein biochemistry, and cancer biology to find and validate new methods for addressing anti-cancer targets – leading to impact in the areas of kinase inhibitor and degrader design and in circumventing drug resistance.

William Greenleaf, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics at Stanford University

The Greenleaf Lab focuses on developing methods to probe both the structure and function of molecules encoded by the genome, as well as the physical compaction and folding of the genome itself. Their efforts are split between building new tools to leverage the power of high-throughput sequencing technologies and bringing these technologies to bear against basic biological questions by linking DNA sequence, structure, and function.

Brian Hie, Ph.D., incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Data Science at Stanford University

The Hie lab’s research will lie at the intersection of biology and machine learning.  Brian uses large machine learning models to understand protein evolution and to accelerate biological design. His work has used a class of machine learning algorithms called protein language models, trained on a massive set of protein sequences, to predict the evolution of proteins over geologic eons and to evolve new proteins in the laboratory. The Hie lab’s initial focus will be on understanding how to develop therapies against rapidly evolving biological pathogens.

Isha Jain, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Physics at UCSF and Assistant Investigator at Gladstone Institutes

The Jain Lab investigates how the body responds to changes in “what we breathe” and “what we eat”. More specifically, they are studying how variations in oxygen levels in the atmosphere and vitamin levels in the diet can affect disease progression. They are using this information to “turn the oxygen and vitamin dials” to treat a wide range of metabolic disorders from rare genetic diseases to age-associated degeneration.

Anna Molofsky, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UCSF

The Molofsky Lab aims to define how the immune system shapes healthy brain development, plasticity, and aging. The lab studies immune signals both within the brain and in communication with peripheral immunity. Their goal is to achieve a cellular and molecular understanding of brain-immune communication that can inform new immune-based therapies for psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and neurodegenerative illnesses.

Alanna Schepartz, Ph.D., T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Professor of MCB at UC Berkeley

The Schepartz Lab is interested in questions that span the chemistry-biology continuum. They seek to establish new knowledge about the chemistry of complex cellular processes and apply this knowledge to design or discover molecules–both small and large–with unique or useful properties. They apply the tools of organic synthesis, biochemistry, biophysics, and structural, molecular, and synthetic biology in their work.

 Jimmie Ye, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF

The Ye Lab studies the molecular basis of immune-related diseases and the genetic basis for natural variation in the human immune system​. A specialist of “omics” technologies and algorithm development, Jimmie recently contributed to the detailed profiling of millions of immune cells from healthy individuals and patients with immune-related conditions, such as autoimmunity, cancer, and COVID-19. The resulting data has contributed to the largest reference to date of immune cell biology in humans.

Thanks to the number of exceptional applications in this year’s cycle and to further complement its existing Programs, Arc is introducing the Ignite Award, a one year, no-strings-attached funding opportunity of $100,000 for scientists at Arc’s partner universities. Award recipients were selected for their visionary research agendas that venture into little-explored territory. Their expertise complements work happening at Arc and explores focus areas from distinct angles, opening up additional channels for discovery and impact.

The Ignite Award winners are:

Katrin Andreasson, M.D., Professor of Neurology at Stanford University

The Andreasson lab is investigating the role that innate immune responses play in the initiation and progression of neurological diseases.

Faranak Fattahi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Cellular Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF

The Fattahi lab is focused on using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to model the peripheral nervous system development and its role in organ regulation and disease.

 Michael Fischbach, Ph.D., Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University

The Fischbach lab studies the human microbiome with a focus on technology development, molecular mechanisms, and novel therapeutics.

Martin Kampmann, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF

The Kampmann lab develops and applies innovative technologies to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging-associated neurodegenerative diseases, and to discover new therapeutic strategies.

Calvin Kuo, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine - Hematology at Stanford University

The Kuo lab works in three main areas: growing 3-dimensional organoids to model and treat diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity and infectious disease, understanding how adult stem cells regenerate tissues and can be harnessed for disease treatment, and studying blood-brain barrier biology and related therapies.

Alexander Marson, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Director of Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology

The Marson lab’s goal is to understand the genetic circuits that control human immune cell function in health and disease, employing powerful new CRISPR genome engineering technologies and to translate these fundamental discoveries into improved cellular immunotherapies.

Alex Pollen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology at UCSF

The Pollen lab is combining advances in single cell genomics and genome engineering with great ape cerebral organoid models of brain development to identify genomic differences underlying unique features of vulnerabilities for the human brain.

Xiaojie Qiu, Ph.D., incoming Assistant Professor of Genetics and, by courtesy, of Computer Science at Stanford University

The Qiu lab aims to bridge the gap between the “big data” from single-cell and spatial genomics and quantitative/predictive modeling in order to address fundamental questions in mammalian cell fate transitions, especially that of heart development and disease.

Julia Salzman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Data Science, of Biochemistry and, by courtesy, of Statistics and of Biology at Stanford University

The Salzman lab develops and applies new statistical algorithms for biological inference on fundamental questions in the evolution of genomes with a current focus on developing and applying a new generation of algorithms for genomics, based on performing direct inference on raw sequencing data.

Robert Saxton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at UC Berkeley

The Saxton lab studies mechanisms of cell communication governing tissue inflammation, repair, and homeostasis, with the goal of developing new therapeutics to modulate these pathways in disease.

Andrew Yang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology and Anatomy at UCSF

The Yang lab develops new molecular approaches to decode the meaning, mechanisms, and therapeutic relevance of protein and immune crosstalk between the brain and body.

2024 call for Core Investigator and Science Fellows now open

 For scientists interested in interdisciplinary collaboration, curiosity-driven exploration, and goal-oriented research, the next search for Core Investigators and Science Fellows is underway at Arc.

In addition to an open call for Core Investigators at partner universities whose research focuses on neurobiology, computational science or immunology, Arc will be conducting a first joint search for Core Investigators with the Department of Pathology at Stanford University. The Institute also expects to share details about additional coordinated searches later this year. You can learn more about open positions and apply here.

“Discoveries related to complex human disease arise from the convergence of scientists freed to work on their very best ideas with the right technologies at their disposal,” said Patrick Hsu, Arc Co-Founder and Core Investigator. “We’re intentionally constructing Arc’s foundational infrastructure to complement  a team of broad scientific expertise to ignite the sparks that accelerate progress. We’re looking forward to growing our scientific community even further in our next application cycle.”

About Arc Institute

Arc Institute is an independent nonprofit research organization located in Palo Alto, California that aims to accelerate scientific progress and understand the root causes of complex diseases. Arc’s model gives scientists complete freedom to pursue curiosity-driven research agendas and fosters deep interdisciplinary collaboration. The Institute operates in close partnership with Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Arc was founded in 2021 by Silvana Konermann, Patrick Hsu, and Patrick Collison.

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