Petri Dishes: From the Immediate Past-Director: March 2019 Issue

A Note From the Immediate Past-Director

The outstanding work of the Brigham research community is what drives us forward towards our goal of a healthier world through scientific discovery. Being a part of the Brigham Research Institute leadership has given me broader exposure to our passionate and talented research community; I have been both inspired by what I’ve seen and honored to continue to serve in this capacity.
In this issue, I am proud to highlight the accomplishments of a few of our many outstanding researchers. In addition, I would like to congratulate the fall BRI Pilot Grant Awardees, who each received $50,000 for their groundbreaking projects related to a wide scope of scientific themes, ranging from Parkinson’s Disease to obesity-induced infertility.
Lastly, I wanted to note that the BRI is working continuously to improve research communications. To this end, this month we focused the discussion at our monthly Research Connection LIVE lunch on research communications and have issued a survey that’s open to the research community. Through these efforts and others, we hope to better understand how we can communicate more effectively and efficiently about upcoming events, funding opportunities, important announcements and more.
We would like to invite your feedback on how we can better use communication tools and platforms to deliver relevant information to the research community by asking you to participate in a short survey.


Elizabeth Petri Henske, MD


BRI HealthTech Award Winner Making Waves in Virtual Reality


In May of 2018, Bill Hobbs was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Thanks to oncologist Dr. Ray Mak and researcher Christopher Williams from BWH and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Hobbs was able to take part in a trial that allowed him to wear a virtual reality headset to get a first-hand look at his insides. He was excited at the chance to use the new technology in order to “walk through [his] own body.” Read more about the story on the STAT website here.


Congratulations to the Fall Pilot Grant Awardees!


The BRI Pilot Grant Program supports basic, clinical and translational projects/activities related to any scientific theme with the goal of obtaining preliminary data that will be used to apply for new funding from the National Institutes of Health, other federal and state grantors, foundations, industry and other granting agencies. Congratulations to these four awardees, selected from more than 60 applications:


Saranna Fanning, PhD
Instructor, Department of Neurology
Evaluating Lipases as Drug Targets for Alpha-Synuclein Toxicity in Parkinson’s Disease





Victor Navarro, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Obesity-induced infertility: targeting the melanocortin-kisspeptin pathway





Nicholas Todd, PhD
Instructor, Department of Radiology
Targeted Delivery of Huntington’s Disease Gene Therapeutics



Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology

The contribution of chromosome 21 genes to Alzheimer’s disease risk in Down syndrome





Researcher Spotlight

Y. Shrike Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associate Bioengineer, Division of Engineering in Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital







Research Communications 

Since 2012, we have reached more than 95% of all countries with our various communications efforts including email newsletters, our websites and social media.





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