2023 Eclipse Award for Innovation in High Throughput Biology Winners
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Graduate Student winner: Han Altae-Tran

The 2023 award for a graduate student goes to Han Altae-Tran, a trainee in the laboratory of Dr. Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Mr. Altae-Tran applies computational approaches to identify new RNA-programmable proteins, an interest that originated from the diversity of known families of CRISPR-Cas enzymes. His work has led to the discovery of OMEGAs, transposon-encoded genes that bind a class of novel ncRNAs and are distant relatives of the widely used CRISPR-Cas9 and CRISPR-Cas12 gene editing systems. Importantly, Mr. Altae-Tran’s work has revealed increased diversity in ncRNAs that guide enzymes to their DNA and RNA targets, which may provide the basis for new technology tools for genome editing.

Postdoctoral Fellow winner: Shira Weingarten-Gabbay

The 2023 award for a post-doctoral fellow goes to Dr. Shira Weingarten-Gabbay, a researcher in the laboratories of Dr. Pardis Sabeti (Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard) and Dr. Charles Rice (Rockefeller University). Dr. Weingarten-Gabbay’s expertise is in employing massively parallel reporter assays to discover novel genomic elements regulating various aspects of gene expression in viruses and human cells. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she turned her attention to the recognition of SARS-CoV-2 encoded proteins by the immune system. She showed that T cells detect peptides derived from unannotated open reading frames of the virus that are translated in infected cells Importantly, her work reveals additional mechanisms by which the immune system can detect infection and my lead to novel vaccination strategies against COVID and other viruses.