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Allen Institute Announces 2018 Next Generation Leaders

Six early-career neuroscience researchers will participate in unique advisory council

November 2, 2018 | Download PDF

The Allen Institute today debuted the 2018 Next Generation Leaders, a group of six early-career neuroscientists who will participate in a special advisory council for the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a division of the Allen Institute. Now in its fifth year, the Next Generation Leaders Program was created for and by researchers in early stages of their scientific career, who don’t always get the benefit of formal external advice. 

“The idea behind the Next Generation Leaders Program is to bring in new ideas and foster collaborations and connections with our own scientists,” said Julie Harris, Ph.D., Associate Director of Neuroanatomy at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and chair of the Next Generation Leader Committee. “In the five years since this program launched, many of us at the Allen Institute have benefitted from their insight on our research.”

The program also provides professional development for its members by offering training on how to serve as scientific advisors to another organization, roles typically not given to scientists until they are well advanced in their careers. 

Next Generation Leaders are selected each year through a competitive process that includes applications from around the world. This year, the six Next Generation Leaders come from universities and research institutes in the U.S., Canada and Germany. They will each have a three-year term on the advisory council.

“The Allen Institute for Brain Science is doing phenomenal work for the neuroscience field,” said Eiman Azim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies who just completed his term as a Next Generation Leader council member. “It was a thrill and a privilege for me to serve on the Next Generation Leader council and learn how the Institute works from the inside. The experience introduced me to an inspiring group of scientists both at the Institute and in the program and gave me useful insights as I establish my own lab. Paul Allen had an incredible vision, and I am grateful I had a chance to be a small part of it.”

The 18-member Next Generation Leader council will convene at this year’s Showcase Symposium at the Allen Institute, held Dec. 4 to Dec. 5, where they will present their own research and give feedback on research presented by early-career Allen Institute researchers. The members also attend one additional scientific advisory council meeting per year to provide feedback on specific research projects.

The newly appointed Next Generation Leaders are:

  • Mark Cembrowski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia
  • Keith Hengen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Tomasz Nowakowski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Catherine Peña, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Princeton University
  • Emily Sylwestrak, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon
  • Maria Antonietta Tosches, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research

About the Allen Institute for Brain Science

The Allen Institute for Brain Science is a division of the Allen Institute (, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization, and is dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the human brain works in health and disease. Using a big science approach, the Allen Institute generates useful public resources used by researchers and organizations around the globe, drives technological and analytical advances, and discovers fundamental brain properties through integration of experiments, modeling and theory. Launched in 2003 with a seed contribution from founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, the Allen Institute is supported by a diversity of government, foundation and private funds to enable its projects. The Allen Institute for Brain Science's data and tools are publicly available online at