30 interdisciplinary research teams receive Johns Hopkins Discovery Awards

Winning projects—chosen from 190 proposals—include 108 individuals from across the university

Creating a population study to track lead exposure and educational outcomes in Baltimore. Developing novel automated methods for breast cancer detection in low- and middle-income countries. Uncovering lost text in a rare 16th-century book edited by Erasmus. Using virtual reality to allow people to "enter" and explore a human brain in order to experience the brain as impacted by depressive disorder.

"With these awards, faculty will have the freedom to pursue new avenues for discovery with colleagues across our community, and to take up the most pressing questions we face as a society."
Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University

These are among 30 multidisciplinary endeavors that have been selected to receive support this year from Johns Hopkins University's Discovery Awards program. Each project team is made up of members from at least two JHU entities who aim to solve a complex problem and expand the horizons of knowledge.

Altogether, the winning project teams-chosen from 190 proposals-include 108 individuals representing 11 Johns Hopkins entities. Notably, the partnerships engage the University Libraries and Museums for the first time in the program's four award cycles. They are joined this year by all 10 university divisions.

"This year's proposals attested to the intellectual creativity and collaborative spirit of our university," says Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University. "With these awards, faculty will have the freedom to pursue new avenues for discovery with colleagues across our community, and to take up the most pressing questions we face as a society."

The Discovery Awards program was announced in early 2015, as was the Catalyst Awards program for early-career researchers. Together the two programs represent a $30 million commitment by university leadership, along with the deans and directors of JHU's divisions, to faculty-led research.

The Discovery Awards are intended to spark new interactions among investigators across the university rather than to support established projects. Teams can apply for up to $100,000 to explore a new area of collaborative work with special emphasis on preparing for an externally funded large-scale grant or cooperative agreement.

More than 70 faculty members from across the university were called upon to review the proposals, which were due at the end of March.

One of the largest collaborations, led by Xiaobin Wang and Nilanjan Chatterjee, brings together seven experts from three schools—Medicine, Public Health, and Engineering—to develop tools for autism risk prediction and intervention using big data and machine learning.

"Each of these new connections represents countless hours spent imagining and designing new projects," says Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research, about the 30 winning proposals. "I am grateful to our researchers for investing that time, our reviewers for their expert guidance, and university leadership for continuing their support of these awards. I look forward to seeing the results as our colleagues roll up their sleeves and get to work."

The full list of recipients and their projects is available on the Office of Research website.

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