Allen Frontiers Symposium 2019

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group hosted the 2019 Allen Frontiers Symposium at The Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston on October 16-17, 2019. This two-day event featured the latest advances from current Frontiers Group awardees, including Allen Discovery Center lead scientists, Allen Distinguished Investigators and AHA-Allen Initiative teams.

The meeting featured keynotes by Carl Zimmer of the New York Times and Regina Barzilay of MIT with Jonathan Stokes of the Broad Institute. Frontiers Group awardees presented on topics including: human brain evolution, neuroimmunology, aging and cognitive impairment, along with nuclear biophysics, epigenetics, cancer and cardiac disease. 

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10/16/2019 to 10/17/2019

The Joseph B. Martin
Conference Center

at Harvard Medical School
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115

Registration Cost:

  • General Registration: $50
  • Student Registration: $25

Event Overview

Wednesday, October 16:

  • Registration and breakfast, 8:30-9:00am
  • Welcome and introduction, 9:00am
  • Morning sessions, 9:00am-12:20pm
  • Networking lunch (provided), 12:20-1:30pm
  • Afternoon sessions, 1:30-4:40pm

Thursday, October 17:

  • Registration and breakfast, 8:30-9:00am
  • Welcome and introduction, 9:00am
  • Morning sessions, 9:00am-12:20pm
  • Networking lunch (provided), 12:20-1:30pm
  • Afternoon sessions, 1:30-3:00pm

Keynote Speakers



Carl Zimmer, The New York Times

"Braided History: Reporting on Human Origins"

Carl Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times and the author of 13 books about science. His latest book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, won the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and was selected by the New York Times Book Review as a notable book of the year. He is professor adjunct at Yale University.



Regina Barzilay, PhD, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

"Learning to discover novel antibiotics from vast chemical spaces"

Regina Barzilay is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests are in natural language processing. Currently, Prof. Barzilay is focused on bringing the power of machine learning to oncology. In collaboration with physicians and her students, she is devising deep learning models that utilize imaging, free text, and structured data to identify trends that affect early diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention. Prof. Barzilay is poised to play a leading role in creating new models that advance the capacity of computers to harness the power of human language data.

Regina Barzilay is a recipient of various awards including the MacArthur Fellowship, NSF Career Award, the MIT Technology Review TR-35 Award, Microsoft Faculty Fellowship and several Best Paper Awards in top NLP conferences. In 2017, she received a MacArthur fellowship, an ACL fellowship and an AAAI fellowship.

Prof. Barzilay received her MS and BS from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Regina Barzilay received her PhD in Computer Science from Columbia University, and spent a year as a postdoc at Cornell University.


Jonathan Stokes, PhD, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard 

"Learning to discover novel antibiotics from vast chemical spaces"

Jonathan Stokes is a Banting Fellow in the Collins lab at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard. He received his BHSc in 2011, graduating summa cum laude, and his PhD in antimicrobial chemical biology in 2016, both from McMaster University. His current research applies a combination of chemistry, biology, and artificial intelligence to develop novel antibacterial therapies with expanded capabilities over conventional antibiotics. Dr. Stokes is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Master’s Award, the Colin James Lyne Lock Doctoral Scholarship, and the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, where he ranked 1st in Canada.

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Frontiers Group Awardees

Allen Discovery Center leaders

Michael Levin, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Reading and Writing the Morphogenetic Code
Markus Covert*, Allen Discovery Center at Stanford University, Systems Modeling of Infection
Jay Shendure and Michael Elowitz, Allen Discovery Center at UW Medicine, Cell Lineage Tracing
Christopher Walsh, Allen Discovery Center at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Human Brain Evolution

learn more about allen discovery centers

Allen Distinguished Investigators

Cardiovascular Extracellular Matrix
Suneel Apte, Cleveland Clinic
Jeffrey Holmes, University of Virginia

Fei Chen & Jason Buenrostro, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Jan Ellenberg, European Molecular Biology Laboratory* & Ralf Jungmann, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Charles Gersbach, Duke University

Evolution, Development & Aging
Steve Horvath, University of California, Los Angeles
Marc Kirschner, Harvard Medical School
Rachel Whitaker, University of Illinois

learn more about allen distinguished investigators


Nuclear Biophysics
Clodagh O'Shea, Salk Institute
Michael Rosen, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Christian Steidl, University of British Columbia
Matthias Stephan, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
David Weinstock, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Scott Manalis, MIT

Chenghua Gu, Harvard Medical School
Baljit Khakh, University of California, Los Angeles

American Heart Association-Allen Initiative in Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment Teams

AHA-Allen Initiative Team at Salk Institute​, led by Rusty Gage
AHA-Allen Initiative Team at Stanford University, led by Tony Wyss-Coray
AHA-Allen Initiative Team at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, led by Mukesh K. Jain

learn more about the AHA-Allen initiative 

*Cannot attend but team members will present at symposium.