Two CUMC scientists—Stavros Lomvardas, PhD, and Benjamin Ohlstein, MD, PhD—have been named HHMI Faculty Scholars with 82 other early-career scientists throughout the United States.
The HHMI Faculty Scholars program was created by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help early-career scientists pursue their best and most creative research ideas in a funding environment that favors “safe” research proposals. Each Faculty Scholar will receive funding between $600,000 and $1.8 million, including indirect costs, spread over five years.
Stavros Lomvardas, PhD
Professor of biochemistry & molecular biophysics
Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain and Behavior Institute
Dr. Lomvardas studies the genes that give us the power to detect billions of different scents. In mammals, each odor-detecting neuron carries only one type of olfactory receptor, which is chosen from a pool of thousands. By studying how the olfactory neuron makes its choice, he hopes to reveal general principles about the way cells orchestrate random choices that generate diversity.
Benjamin Ohlstein, MD, PhD
Assistant professor of genetics & development
Columbia Stem Cell Initiative
Dr. Ohlstein studies the stem cells that maintain the gastrointestinal tract throughout life. Intestinal cells must be replenished at a high rate for the intestine to carry out digestion and act as a barrier against chemicals and bacteria. This steady cellular turnover requires highly controlled mechanisms of regeneration, and Dr. Ohlstein investigates the regulatory pathways that control intestinal stem cells. These studies may lead to new therapies to restore regenerative ability of the gut when it becomes impaired as a result of severe inflammation, radiation, and other conditions.