FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

The FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize) recognizes the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists whose research has the potential to or has led to innovations in patient care.

Overview

In 2018, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) launched the FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize), which recognizes the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists whose work has the potential to or has led to innovations in patient care. This $10,000 honorarium and prize celebrates the transformational work of clinician-scientists, whose research translates basic scientific observations into new paradigm-shifting approaches for diagnosing, preventing, treating or curing disease and disability. The Trailblazer Prize is made possible by a generous donation from John I. Gallin, M.D., and Elaine Gallin, Ph.D., to the FNIH. 

The FNIH recognizes the unique and critical function of clinician-scientists in the evolution of medical practice. As noted in the 2014 NIH Physician-Scientist Workforce Report, these individuals play a vital role in ensuring that biomedical advances ultimately benefit patients and improve public health. 

The nomination period for the 2022 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists opened on February 1 and closed on March 31, 2022.  The prize will be bestowed at the FNIH Awards Ceremony on October 19, 2022.

Meet the Winners of the 2022 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

Wagle Dr. Wagle will receive the Trailblazer Prize for developing novel gene sequencing approaches to profiling cancer mutations that affect treatment response and drug resistance. In addition, he directs Count Me In, an innovative partnership between patients and researchers that empowers patients to actively participate in cancer research and speed the discovery of new treatments. Dr. Wagle is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Institute Member of the Broad Institute, and an oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Van Allen Dr. Van Allen will receive the Trailblazer Prize for his many contributions to developing the science of personalized cancer care. Using innovative computational approaches, his research is helping to determine the impact of both inherited and environmental factors on cancer and the influence of genes on an individual’s response to cancer treatment. Dr. Van Allen is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Associate Member of the Broad Institute, and a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care.

Drs. Van Allen and Wagle were selected as the 2022 Trailblazer Prize recipient by a jury of distinguished biomedical research leaders.:

  • Michael J. Welsh, M.D., (Jury Chair), Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, University of Iowa
  • Barry S. Coller, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs, Physician in Chief, David Rockefeller Professor, The Rockefeller University
  • Michael D. Fox, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • Helen Hobbs, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • John I. Gallin, M.D., NIH Associate Director for Clinical Research and Chief Scientific Officer of the NIH Clinical Center
  • Steven M. Paul, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, Karuna Therapeutics, Inc., and Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures
  • Christine E. Seidman, M.D., Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Director, Cardiovascular Genetics Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

 2021 Recipient

Piro LitoThe 2021 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists recipient was Piro Lito, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Member and Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  Dr. Lito received the Trailblazer Prize for catalyzing breakthroughs in the understanding of oncoprotein signaling and the development of novel therapeutic approaches for cancers driven by the mutant KRAS protein. His fundamental research directly translates to patients and he served as one of the principal investigators of the first-in­-human clinical trial testing the effect of KRAS G12C inhibitors, work that helped establish the first FDA-approved KRAS-directed therapy for patients with lung cancer.  To learn more about his research and view the bestowing of the prize, view the 2021 FNIH Awards Ceremony here.

2020 Recipient

Michael Wilson, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, is awarded the 2020 Trailblazer Prize for pioneering a next-generation diagnostic approach to pinpoint infectious causes of inflammatory conditions of the central nervous system.

In lieu of an in-person event to celebrate this achievement, the prize was presented via the online celebration of the 2020 FNIH awards.

2019 Recipient

James Kochenderfer, M.D., Investigator, Surgery Branch, Center for Cancer Research, NCI was selected as the recipient of the 2019 FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists for developing immunotherapies that leverage chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells to treat blood cancers, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma. The prize was presented at the FNIH Annual Fall Board Dinner on October 23, 2019 in Bethesda, MD.

Finalists for the 2019 Trailblazer Prize

2019 Finalist

  • Ami S. Bhatt, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Genetics School of Medicine, Stanford University, for developing genomic and metabolomic tools to track how the microbiome affects the clinical outcomes of cancer patients.
  • James Kochenderfer, M.D., Investigator, Surgery Branch, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, for developing immunotherapies that leverage chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells to treat blood cancers, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
  • Evan Macosko, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, for developing Drop-seq and Slide-seq technologies that analyze genes expressed at the single-cell level and provide a deeper understanding of the molecular and cellular biology of the brain and other organs.
  • Giovanni Traverso, M.B., B.Chir, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School for developing orally administered delivery systems of medications that reside in the gastric cavity for prolonged periods, as well as systems that enable the delivery of biologics, like insulin, orally.

2018 Recipient

Michael Fox, M.D., Ph.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School was selected as the recipient of the inaugural FNIH Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists for developing innovative techniques to map human brain connectivity that can be translated into new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. The inaugural prize was presented at the FNIH Annual Fall Board Dinner on October 24, 2018 in Bethesda, MD.

Finalists for the 2018 Trailblazer Prize

2018 Finalist

  • Daniel Bauer, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Harvard Medical School, for pioneering research on genetic editing that can be translated into therapies for blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.
  • Jaehyuk Choi, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Dermatology, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (BMG), Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, for using genomics to identify mutations in skin cells that can lead to autoinflammatory diseases and cancer, and inspiring novel therapeutic approaches for these diseases.
  • Michael Fox, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, for developing innovative techniques to map human brain connectivity that can be translated into new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression.

Media

FNIH Press Release (August 30, 2022): Foundation for the NIH Will Award 2022 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to Two Medical Oncologists – Dr. Eliezer M. Van Allen and Dr. Nikhil Wagle

FNIH Press Release (October 21, 2021): Foundation for the NIH Awards 2021 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to Piro Lito, M.D.

FNIH Press Release (July 20, 2021): Foundation for the NIH Names Finalists of the 2021 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

FNIH Press Release (October 23, 2019): Foundation for the NIH Awards 2019 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to Dr. James Kochenderfer

FNIH Press Release (September 4, 2019): Foundation for the NIH Names Finalists of the 2019 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

FNIH Press Release (October 25, 2018): Foundation for the NIH Bestows the Inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists to Dr. Michael Fox

FNIH Announcement (July 31, 2018): Foundation for the NIH Selects 3 Finalists for the Inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

Partners

The Trailblazer Prize is supported by John I. Gallin, M.D., and Elaine Gallin, Ph.D.

Contact

Please email TrailblazerPrize@fnih.org with questions.