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Chen Award Recipient 2016

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Chen Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Human Genetic and Genomic Research (2016)

Bing Ren, USA
University of California San Diego

Dr. Ren is currently Member of the Ludwig Cancer Research (LCR) and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. He is also a co-director of the UCSD Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Graduate Program. Dr. Ren obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1998, and subsequently conducted postdoc research at the Whitehead Institute. He joined the faculty at LCR and UCSD in 2001, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007 and to Full Professor in 2009. Dr. Ren has made important contributions to the understanding of gene regulatory mechanisms and chromatin organization in mammalian cells. As a postdoctoral fellow, he invented ChIP-chip, a transformative approach for genome-wide determination of transcription factor binding and covalent chromatin modifications. As an independent investigator, Dr. Ren exploited this approach for annotation of cis regulatory sequences in the human genome. He discovered signature chromatin modification patterns at transcriptional enhancers, and proposed a chromatin-modification-signature based enhancer mapping strategy for annotation of these regulatory sequences in genomes. Dr. Ren and colleagues further demonstrated that cell type specific activities of enhancers correlate with their chromatin modification states, a finding that set the stage for global analysis of gene regulatory mechanisms during mammalian development. In recent years, Dr. Ren also investigated the molecular architecture of chromatin in mammalian cells and made several key discoveries: 1) He found that the genome is partitioned into thousands of megabase-sized “topological domains”, a structural feature that is highly conserved during development and through evolution; 2) He showed that topological domains are units of genome organization that physically constrain the long-range regulatory interactions between enhancers and their target genes; and, 3) he and colleagues demonstrated that the cis regulatory elements and transcription factors regulate the formation of topological domains. As a principal investigator, Dr. Ren has actively participated in the NIH ENCODE project, the Roadmap Epigenome project, and the Common Fund 4D Nucleome project over the years. He is a recipient of the Kimmel Scholar award, the Young Investigator Award of the Chinese Biological Investigator Society, and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chen New Investigator Award (2016)

Feng Zhang, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Feng Zhang is a Core Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He was born in Shijiazhuang (Hebei Province, China) in 1981 and moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1993. His introduction to engineering biological tools for mammalian systems began as a sophomore in high school with an opportunity to intern in the gene therapy lab of John Levy in Des Moines, Iowa. He obtained an A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University in 2004 working with Xiaowei Zhuang. As a PhD student in the Chemistry Department at Stanford University, Zhang worked with Karl Deisseroth to develop optogenetics technologies for dissecting brain circuits, using light-sensitive proteins from microbes to enable control of neuronal activity in living organisms with light. After finishing his Ph.D. in 2009, Feng joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow (2009-2010), focusing on developing gene editing tools based on transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs). In 2011, Zhang began his own laboratory at the Broad and McGovern Institutes, where he harnessed CRISPR-Cas systems for gene editing in eukaryotic cells. His lab continues to play a critical role in the development of gene editing technologies and applications that are accelerating research around the world.

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