Press Resources

Press Releases

Executive Director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group to Depart

Thomas C. Skalak will pursue new Creative Science and Innovation Opportunities

May 24, 2018

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group announced today that its founding executive director, Thomas C. Skalak will leave his role as Executive Director on May 31, 2018, in order to pursue new scientific leadership opportunities.

Dr. Skalak was recruited by founder Paul Allen and Allen Institute CEO Allan Jones in 2015 to join the Allen Institute from the University of Virginia, with the vision of creating a broad portfolio of external bioscience investments.

The outcome was the creation of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, launched in 2016 at the National Academy of Sciences. The mission of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group is to uncover and promote the emerging frontiers of science, identifying pioneering explorers to create new knowledge, and produce important solutions that make the world better. Starting in 2018, the Allen Institute is moving towards a greater focus on integrating its substantive intramural programs with the extramural research, and Dr. Skalak has decided to seek creative growth opportunities elsewhere.

The Frontiers Group has provided external funding via two major mechanisms. The Allen Distinguished Investigatorsprogram provides three years of funding to individual researchers or small teams with groundbreaking ideas. The Allen Discovery Centers provide larger-scale, longer-term funding to coherent, leadership-driven teams, typically located at major research organizations and universities. The current research projects and investigators can be viewed at

“Under Tom Skalak’s leadership, the frontier scientific impact produced by the Allen Distinguished Investigators has been exceptionally high,” said Allan Jones, CEO of the Allen Institute. “Dr. Skalak has brought substantial new partnerships to our organization, at both the individual and institutional level, through his outstanding professional and scientific network. He spearheaded our first Bioscience and Philanthropy Summit in 2017, which attracted attendees representing over $350B in private capital. We are grateful for his leadership and have benefitted from his ability to curate talent, judge frontier ideas, create and execute international-scale science programs, and act as an ambassador for our major initiatives.”

“It’s been an honor to help create The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group and to work to realize Paul Allen’s overarching vision to advance understanding of living systems, inspire substantial new partners, and support some of the world’s most pioneering scientists,” said Tom Skalak, founding Executive Director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, and Vice President for Research Emeritus of the University of Virginia. “Perhaps most fulfilling is seeing the transformative impact our Allen researchers are making in a range of fields that will benefit all of humankind.”

“We’ve pioneered new work on the cutting edge of scientific research, modeling complex biological systems, cancer, aging, evolutionary principles, cell lineage, morphogenetic codes, cardiovascular health, and neurodegenerative diseases,” continued Dr. Skalak. “These scientific explorations will rewrite the textbooks and move biology into a more quantitative, predictive era. I wish the Allen Institute and Paul Allen the best in their next phase of enterprise growth as they manage the industrial-scale, team science projects in Seattle.”

Regarding his future plans, Skalak said, “I will be committing my full attention to a long-deferred personal project as an Artist in Residence at the renowned Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, to complete a novel for broad audiences about the important role of science and engineering in societal advancement globally. The book will be aimed at elevating the role of science in the public eye, and providing inspirational scientist role models to popular culture. Following this writing period, I’ll be considering creative leadership roles in foundations, federal agencies, universities, and private offices seeking to curate and invest in frontier science and technology.”

About The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group 

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group is dedicated to exploring the landscape of science to identify and fund pioneers with ideas that will advance knowledge and make the world better. Through continuous dialogue with scientists across the world, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group seeks opportunities to expand the boundaries of knowledge and solve important problems. Programs include the Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research, and the Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and potential impact. The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group was founded in 2016 by philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen, and is a division of the Allen Institute, an independent 501(c)(3) medical research organization. For more information visit

About the Allen Institute

The Allen Institute is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit research organization founded by philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen. The Allen Institute is dedicated to answering some of the biggest questions in bioscience and accelerating research worldwide. The Institute is a recognized leader in large-scale research with a commitment to an open science model. Its research institutes include the Allen Institute for Brain Science, launched in 2003, and the Allen Institute for Cell Science, launched in 2014. In 2016, the Allen Institute expanded its reach with the launch of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, which identifies pioneers with new ideas to expand the boundaries of knowledge and make the world better. For more information, visit

# # #

Media Contact:

Rob Piercy, Sr. Manager, Media Relations 

Office: 206.548.8486 | Mobile: 206.601.8441