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November 17, 2010

Two UW biologists are among the first Allen Distinguished Investigators

Two UW biology faculty members are among the first seven researchers nationwide to receive Allen Distinguished Investigator Awards from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

The awards, totaling $9.4 million paid over three years, are intended to advance important neuroscience and cellular engineering research.

Michael Dickinson, a biology professor who recently came to the UW from the California Institute of Technology, was awarded $2 million to support his work in developing new instruments to measure complex group behavior as a means of studying the genetic and neural basis of behavior. Focusing on the common fruit fly, a model organism for studying general brain function, the work aims to understand brain function at the genetic, cellular and organism levels, providing insight into many biological processes involved in mental health disorders.

Jennifer Nemhauser, an assistant professor of biology, will receive $1.4 million for her work with Eric Klavins, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering, in moving a cell-to-cell communication system from plants into baker’s yeast to better understand plant growth and to engineer new signaling systems using plant genes.