Eric S. Lander and Stuart L. Schreiber Prizes in Scientific Excellence
The inaugural Eric S. Lander and Stuart L. Schreiber Prizes in Scientific Excellence were awarded at the 2021 Broad Retreat to two outstanding mentored Broad scientists. These rising stars presented their research during the award ceremony, and were recognized with a commemorative scientific excellence award and an accompanying $1,000 prize. They will also participate in a Broad-sponsored leadership development program and will serve on the prize selection committee next year.
Eric S. Lander scientific excellence prize
Tslil Ast Mootha Lab
Tslil was already a skilled and successful scientist when she came to the Mootha lab as a postdoc. She earned her Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, and had already co-authored 10 papers – including two first-author papers in Cell – and received several awards. At the Mootha lab, she has made great strides in understanding Friedreich's Ataxia, a fatal mitochondrial disease caused by the recessive loss of a mitochondrial protein called frataxin. In a 2019 Cell paper, she showed that hypoxia rescues frataxin deficiencies and restores disease-associated signaling anomalies. This foundational work suggests that hypoxia, or a hypoxia-inspired approach, could have therapeutic potential. Tslil continues to lead groundbreaking work on Freidreich’s Ataxia. Tslil’s research on Friedreich’s Ataxia is so promising that it has spurred others to study the disease and helped form new research communities.
Tslil’s mentors say she is an insightful leader who asks questions that no one else has asked, and finds elegant ways to tease apart complex biological systems. She has helped train four young scientists, including two women Ph.D. students. Tslil finds time to help others think through their projects or learn new techniques, and always brings out the best in them.
Stuart L. Schreiber scientific excellence prize
Carly Ziegler Shalek Lab
Carly is currently an M.D./Ph.D. student in Alex Shalek’s lab. She earned a Ph.D. in biophysics this May, and is in her third year of medical school in the Harvard–MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. Throughout her Ph.D., Carly worked on a wide range of projects focusing on host-pathogen interactions in human tissues at a single-cell level. Carly spearheaded an international effort at the start of the pandemic to identify cellular targets of SARS-CoV-2 in different tissues and species. The study, published in Cell, was the first to identify key cell types infected by SARS-CoV-2 in the nose, lungs, and gut. Carly has also produced several more studies that yielded huge insight into how SARS-CoV-2 causes disease and evades the immune system. Carly is also a committed teacher to others in the lab, and her mentors describe her as an unstoppable scientific force and a deep quantitative thinker. They call her gracious and patient, and cite her remarkable ability to meld fundamental insights with clinical impact. One of her PIs even said she is the kind of student who gives PIs imposter syndrome!
About the prizes
In 2019, members of the Broad community - including current and former trainees and mentees - conceived of and established the annual Eric S. Lander and Stuart L. Schreiber Prizes in Scientific Excellence in honor and gratitude for their vision and leadership in founding the Broad Institute, their creation of a culture in which the next generation is empowered to pursue scientific excellence, and their mentorship, especially of early-career women in science. These prizes are given to an outstanding mentored scientist, postdoctoral fellow or graduate student, at the Broad Institute, who demonstrate first and foremost scientific excellence, reflective of the highest scientific standards of Eric and Stuart, as well as a commitment to promoting women in science as shown through the awardee’s own example as an accomplished woman scientist or through mentorship and championing of women’s scientific careers.