Seeding the next generation of biomedical visionaries. 

Whether it's bringing single-cell technologies to tackle HIV in Africa or launching a national breast cancer research initiative, BroadIgnite supports the ideas that lead to biomedical breakthroughs.
Matching Challenge
THANK YOU. Because of your generous contributions, we raised over $300,000 at the end of 2017--including the $100,000 year-end match--to support early-career researchers with high-risk, high-reward projects. Your giving has funded the three scientists profiled below. Thanks to you, their projects could one day have a tangible impact on the lives of patients. And it's still easy to show your support for these scientists. Simply click here and select "BroadIgnite" from the drop-down menu. 
New Award Recipients
Mariella Filbin: Pediatric Brain Cancer

Most children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a pediatric brain tumor, die within nine months of their initial diagnosis. Chemotherapy doesn't work, and the tumor's location in the brainstem makes surgery impossible. With BroadIgnite funding, Mariella, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will pursue the exciting findings she's recently made about DIPG, which could potentially uncover therapeutic leads. Watch her video to learn more.

Oliver Jonas: Innovative Medical Devices

Genomic research can help doctors tailor approaches to individual patients. But, given how toxic drugs like chemotherapies are, is there a way to know if a treatment will work before a patient takes it? Oliver, an assistant professor in radiology at Harvard Medical School, designs microdevices to do just that. Smaller than a grain of rice, the device is implanted into a tumor, where it provides small doses of 30 different chemotherapies and measures the patient's response to each. BroadIgnite will support Oliver's exploration of whether this technique can work in the human brain to gauge the effectiveness of drugs for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Watch his video here. 

Samantha Riesenfeld: Food Allergy   

Food allergies endanger more than 220 million people worldwide, two-thirds of whom are children. Yet we still don't understand the biology behind these potentially life-threatening reactions to food. What we know is that it's related to the interplay between our immune system and epithelial tissue. BroadIgnite funding will help Sam use advanced analytics to test an unconventional but potentially revolutionary hypothesis: that our nervous system mediates the immune system's response. This radical rethink could eventually lead to new treatments. Check out Sam's video.

Project Updates
Viktor Adalsteinsson

"Blood biopsies," a breakthrough technology to detect cancer DNA from a simple blood draw, have stirred enormous excitement. Viktor, a 2017 BroadIgnite awardee, leads the Broad's blood biopsy team, which has been focused on optimizing their technology to detect and track recurrent, hard-to-treat tumors. BroadIgnite funding is helping Viktor's team hone blood biopsy techniques for identifying other disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and allergic responses. He was recently the co-first author of a paper in Nature demonstrating that nearly 90 percent of a tumor's genetic features could be detected in blood samples. His team also showed that the method could potentially be used in up to 49 percent of patients with advanced cancer. 

Elinor Karlsson

Elinor's project involves studying 100 dog-wolf hybrids to understand the genetic changes behind dog domestication. Her hypothesis is that the genes tied to wolf-like behaviors, which are less attuned to social cues, could point to genes and pathways linked to autism spectrum disorders and related psychiatric diseases in humans. Since receiving her BroadIgnite grant in 2017, Elinor's team has used synchronized cameras and saliva samples to compare the behaviors and epigenetic states of dogs and wolves during their critical period of socialization. Next steps include combining the epigenetics and behavioral results to identify genes that may influence social development in infants. Elinor was prominently featured in the New York Times this fall.

Eric Minikel and Sonia Vallabh

Eric and Sonia, a husband-and-wife team of BroadIgnite awardees from 2015, are now testing a molecule that can potentially protect people against prion disease. Having begun to test the molecule in mice, they'll soon need to test it in people through a preventive clinical trial. Through BroadIgnite support, they are in the process of enrolling both patients and controls in a pilot clinical study at Massachusetts General Hospital, and developing tests to analyze 400 samples at the Broad. Earlier this year, NPR reported on Eric and Sonia's inspiring quest to thwart this deadly disorder.

BroadIgnite Podcast
Season 1, Episode 7: Elinor Karlsson

BroadIgnite awardee Elinor Karlsson discusses how her team is plumbing the genomic depths of dog-wolf hybrids for clues to the genetics of autism spectrum disorders and related psychiatric diseases in humans.

BroadIgnite Awardees in the Media
Ben Ebert
Ben received a BroadIgnite grant in 2014 to create customizable mouse models that simulate the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). We're thrilled to share several news items about his work. The New York Times featured Ben's research in a story about white blood cell mutations that can double the risk of heart attacks in most patients. In addition, Ben's team published a paper in Cell Stem Cell, describing how they use CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to engineer the stem cells they insert in their mouse models. They also showed that their models could demonstrate the effectiveness of azacitidine, an MDS therapy. Ben himself was recently appointed Chair of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. And the American Society of Hematology has honored Ben with the William Dameshek Prize, awarded to an early- or mid-career hematologist who has made an outstanding contribution to the field.
Viktor Adalsteinsson and Evan Macosko

In addition to his paper in Nature (see above), Viktor was named to MIT Technology Review's list of the top 35 innovators under age 35. It's the second year in a row that a BroadIgnite investigator has made the list! Last year, Evan Macosko received the honor. And Evan himself made news recently, receiving a 2017 National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award. Congrats, Viktor and Evan!
Abby Kussell Hopper