Whether it's bringing single-cell technologies to tackle HIV or launching a breast cancer research initiative, BroadIgnite supports the ideas that lead to biomedical breakthroughs.
Matching Gift Challenge
Thank you! Because of the wonderful gifts we received from so many of you, we raised more than $300,000 at the end of 2018 (including a $100,000 match from an incredibly generous donor) to support early-career researchers with innovative projects. Your giving has enabled BroadIgnite to fund the three talented scientists profiled below. Thanks to you, their projects have a chance to achieve liftoff!
New Award Recipients
Yonatan Grad: Understanding Infectious Disease in Africa

Yonatan will investigate the DNA of the Himba, a nomadic, pastoralist tribe of 50,000 people in northern Namibia. He wants to understand why, despite high prevalence of gonorrhea, many of the Himba are asymptomatic. An assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Yonatan will use his BroadIgnite award to travel to Namibia and collect and sequence the strains of gonorrhea found in the Himba. He and his team will then compare the gonorrhea genomes collected from the Himba with their extensive global collections of gonorrhea genomes to learn more about why the Himba avoid developing active infections. The answers could provide important clues to possible future treatments, which are urgently needed amid a worldwide increase of drug-resistant gonorrhea cases.
Jamie Marshall: Improving Early Diagnosis of Kidney Disease 

Chronic kidney diseases afflict 500 million people worldwide. But early diagnoses rarely occur—because by the time classic symptoms appear, these diseases are already in more advanced stages. In order to deepen our understanding of how these diseases originate and progress, Jamie, senior group leader of genomics for the Broad’s kidney disease initiative, wants to create spatial maps of genes expressed in the kidney during health and disease. She’ll use her BroadIgnite award to explore which methods and technologies produce the most accurate, informative maps. Specifically, she will test if Slide-seq, a Broad-developed technology that has helped build high-resolution cellular maps of the brain, can be harnessed to depict the complex cell ‘neighborhoods’ of the kidney. Her hope is to gain insights that can ultimately lead to the development of new early-detection tests.
Karin Pelka: Investigating Immune Response in Colorectal Cancer      

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. A handful of patients, however, do respond to checkpoint inhibitors, an important class of cancer immunotherapies. Karin, a postdoc at the Broad and MGH, wants to understand why some patients benefit from checkpoint inhibitors and others do not. With this aim in mind, she’ll use her BroadIgnite award to analyze colorectal tumor cells and run a series of tests on tissue derived from patients at MGH, perturbing the cells with a variety of stimuli designed to simulate immune cell responses. What she learns from these tests could help doctors identify which patients would benefit from these powerful drugs and potentially increase the percentage of patients who benefit.
Project Updates
Progress Update from Roby Bhattacharyya

For my BroadIgnite award in 2016, I wanted to build a meningitis diagnostic that would rapidly identify the pathogen from the cerebrospinal fluid of patients. Current diagnostics take up to a week, meaning doctors often have to make educated guesses. And when they guess wrong, patients end up with the wrong antibiotics, which contributes to antibiotic resistance. I believed I could shorten time to diagnosis by… READ MORE .
Progress Update from Mariella Filbin

I received my award in 2018 to fund my efforts to identify genetic dependencies in pediatric brain cancers. (Dependencies are cancer-specific mutations that tumors need to survive.) I wanted to expand on my previous findings about the diversity of cancer stem cells and more mature cancer cells in diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a pediatric brain tumor that grows rapidly and has no treatment.I also wanted to uncover therapeutic leads by… READ MORE .
SAVE THE DATE: June 13: BroadIgnite 5th Anniversary Celebration
BroadIgnite will celebrate its 5th anniversary on Thursday, June 13 at the Broad Institute at 6:30pm! Stay tuned for a formal invitation. In the meantime, here’s a video from last year’s event.

BroadIgnite’s 5th Anniversary Celebration 

Thursday, June 13, 2019
6:30 p.m.
Broad Institute
415 Main Street
Cambridge, MA
BroadIgnite Awardees in the Media
Viktor Adalsteinsson has been named associate director of an exciting new initiative at the Broad, the Gerstner Center for Cancer Diagnostics . One of the Center’s focuses will be on advancing blood-based biopsies , a diagnostic approach that Viktor honed with support from his 2017 BroadIgnite award. 
Eric and Sonia are seeking new therapies for prion disease. An inspiring account of their journey as spouses and scientists recently appeared in WIRED . Of the many articles written about these 2015 awardees, this one perhaps best encapsulates the depths of their research and the emotions of their amazing quest.

Ben Ebert was one of the leaders of a research effort demonstrating that old morning-sickness drugs like thalidomide could provide a starting point for a new class of cancer-fighting therapies. Reporting in Science , Ben, a 2014 awardee, and colleagues showed that thalidomide (which was recalled in the 1960s because it caused devastating birth defects) and related drugs share a mechanism of action that triggers a cancer-destroying protein called cereblon. 

Steven Lubitz , a 2018 awardee, was the co-senior author on a major study in JAMA revealing a new link between atrial fibrillation (Afib) and mutations in the heart disease gene TTN . The study is the first to link loss-of-function mutations in a single gene to early-onset Afib. 
Abby Kussell Hopper