Celebrating the next generation of biomedical trailblazers at the 19th annual Fishman Fund Awards
Four talented early-career researchers were awarded prestigious Fishman Fund Awards.
When Dr. William and Lillian Fishman founded our Institute in 1976, they knew that nurturing the next generation of scientists was just as important as advancing cutting-edge research. Today, their values live on in the form of the Fishman Fund Awards, which help exceptional postdoctoral researchers develop into scientific leaders.
On September 24, four talented early-career researchers received the prestigious award during an inspiring virtual ceremony. Generous benefactors, past award winners, and family and friends tuned into the event, which featured remarks from Institute president Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D.; professor and Fishman Fund Award recipient José Luis Millán, Ph.D.; Fishman Fund co-founder Reena Horowitz and co-founder designee Jeanne Jones.
“The Fishmans firmly believed in helping brilliant early-career postdoctoral scientists become great principal investigators,” says Ms. Horowitz, who established the Fishman Fund Awards in 2001 with her late friend Mary Bradley. “Our goal with these awards is to encourage and support these researchers in their quest for the next great medical breakthroughs, which might one day be able to save the lives of our family members, friends and neighbors.”
Fishman Fund winners undergo a rigorous selection process that includes a personal interview and a presentation to the selection committee. All winners receive a $10,000 career development award that can be used to attend workshops, network and travel to national and international conferences to learn about the latest developments in their research fields. The winner of the Fishman Fund Fellowship receives a two-year salary stipend in addition to the professional development funding.
Meet this year’s Fishman Fund Award winners
Fishman Fund Fellowship Award
Kyungsoo Shin, Ph.D., grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada, where he also attended Dalhousie University for his undergraduate and graduate studies. Dr. Shin works in the laboratory of Dr. Francesca Marassi, where he is advancing a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. Dr. Shin recently showed that a protein called vitronectin is the likely cause of the pebble-like deposits in the back of the eye that underlie the disease. With this information, scientists can now work toward a treatment to prevent vision loss.
Dr. Shin’s career goal is to become an independent researcher focused on understanding how cellular membranes—gatekeepers that regulate what enters or exits a cell—are involved in disease. He hopes to mentor and inspire the next generation of scientists to advance our understanding of human biology.
Fishman Fund Career Development Awards
Marie Berenguer, Ph.D., grew up near Paris and went to school in Bordeaux. She is currently studying in the laboratory of Dr. Gregg Duester and focuses on how a compound called retinoic acid affects the way embryos are formed. Her work may open new avenues to prevent and treat birth defects.
Dr. Berenguer’s career goal is to become a principal investigator and lecturer in genetics and developmental biology. By leading her own research team, she hopes to improve our understanding of genetic diseases and lay the foundation for future therapies.
Daniela Dengler, Ph.D., is from Germany, where she studied pharmacy and worked in a pharmacy for a year before she decided to pursue her Ph.D. at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Dr. Dengler works in the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics with Dr. Eduard Sergienko. She is searching for new drugs that bind to proteins called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), which mediate many physiological processes in the body. More than 30% of all FDA-approved drugs act on GPCRs.
Dr. Dengler’s career goal is to become a project leader in biotech, where she wants to combine her background in chemistry with her knowledge in assay development and high-throughput screening to find drugs for unmet medical needs.
Chiara Nicoletti, Ph.D., grew up in Gela, in Sicily, and received her Ph.D. at the University of Padua in northern Italy. Dr. Nicletti is in Dr. Pier Lorenzo Puri’s lab and is studying the links between genetic sequences and risk of disease. Her research will open new avenues to help clinicians practice personalized medicine—including predicting who is likely to get a disease, how to prevent it, how to treat it and perhaps even cure the condition.
Dr. Nicoletti’s career goal is to become a principal investigator, leading her own research team that focuses on integrating foundational research with everyday medical practice to improve human health.
Watch the Fishman Fund Awards ceremony, which featured remarks from Institute president Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D.; professor and Fishman Fund Award recipient José Luis Millán, Ph.D.; Fishman Fund co-founder Reena Horowitz and co-founder designee Jeanne Jones.