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2018 Highlights from the Frontiers Group

For The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, 2018 was a year of welcoming new collaborators and investigators. But it was also a year of sad farewells, with the loss of Allen Institute founder Paul G. Allen in October. Read on for a selection of highlights from the Frontiers Group’s 2018:


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Frontiers researchers pay tribute to Allen Institute founder

Frontiers researchers from around the world gathered in Seattle in October for the 2018 Allen Frontiers Symposium just a few short days after Allen Institute founder Paul G. Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We asked them to share their thoughts on Allen’s legacy and lasting impact in science through his generous investments to further research.


A new alliance to tackle age-related dementia

This year, the Frontiers Group teamed up with the American Heart Association to tackle the massive and urgent problem of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related brain disorders. The $43 million initiative is funding three new multidisciplinary research teams, announced in November, who are working on innovative ways to combat cognitive decline. Read more in our press release.

Awards to address big questions in biology and health

Also in October, the Frontiers Group announced nine new Allen Distinguished Investigators awards, supporting researchers studying lymphoma, neuroscience, immunology, aging and development, and basic biology. Projects proposed by the new class of investigators run the gamut from nanoparticles to reprogram a patient’s own immune system to better understanding how the intricate dance between neurons and immune cells influences our health. Meet the 2018 Allen Distinguished Investigators and learn more in our press release.

Frontiers research advances

With 69 past and present Allen Distinguished Investigators and four Allen Discovery Centers, keeping up with the accomplishments from Frontiers researchers is a monumental task. A short sampling of the long list of 2018 scientific advances made possible by Frontiers Group support includes:

  • surprising discovery about the biophysics of bacteria that could lead to better antibiotics, from the Allen Discovery Center at Stanford University.
  • A tour-de-force study on how the brain accumulates mutations as we age, from the Allen Discovery Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
  • A newly described connection between two different types of biological clocks in humans, from Allen Distinguished Investigator Steve Horvath, Ph.D.
  • Far-reaching electrical signals of injury in baby frog bodies uncovered by researchers at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, which could one day be the basis for distant site diagnostics.
  • Elucidating how one cell gives rise to many in the developing zebrafish, a set of studies published by researchers at the Allen Discovery Center at UW Medicine. This work and other related studies tracing development at the single-cell level were named the 2018 Breakthrough of the Year by Science Magazine this month.

The next frontiers of biology

The Frontiers Group also hosted two Exploring Frontiers symposia in 2018: one on the complex genetic traits that underlie the variations between different human minds, and one on links between the immune and nervous systems. These events gathered speakers and attendees from around the world to present and discuss emerging topics in biology; visit the links above to view videos of the research talks.

For more 2018 highlights from the Allen Institute, read our recaps from the Allen Institute for Cell Science, the Allen Institute for Brain ScienceInstitute-wide highlights and our 2018 Annual Report.

Science Programs at Allen Institute