Foundation for the NIH Names Finalists of the 2021 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) has selected the finalists of the 4th annual Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize).

BETHESDA, MD, July 20, 2021 – The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) has selected the finalists of the 4th annual Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize): Courtney D. DiNardo, M.D., MSCE, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Piro Lito, M.D., Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Medical College of Cornell University; and Ian Antheni Myles, M.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. With work spanning the fields of leukemia, mutant protein-driven cancers—such as pancreatic, colon, lung, thyroid and ovarian cancers­—and skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, these early-career clinician-scientists are being recognized for their outstanding research contributions that have the potential to or have led to innovations in patient care. The winner will be announced and awarded the Trailblazer Prize and a $10,000 honorarium at the 2021 FNIH Awards Ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

“It is thrilling to watch clinician-scientists, early into their careers, dive wholeheartedly into solving biomedical puzzles such as these,” said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., President and Executive Director, FNIH. “By channeling their passion, intelligence and drive, these finalists have made discoveries that moved science many steps along the path toward better therapeutics and healthier populations. All three have already had substantial impact in their areas of expertise, and we anticipate even greater work from them in the future.”

The finalists were selected by a jury of distinguished biomedical research leaders for the following accomplishments:

  • Courtney DiNardo, M.D., MSCE , Associate Professor, Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for innovative research into acute leukemia involving evaluation of novel small molecule and targeted therapeutics leading to three new FDA-approved acute myeloid leukemia (AML) therapies. Dr. DiNardo also founded the MDACC hereditary leukemia clinic for detection of inherited cancer predispositions.
  • Piro Lito, M.D., PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, for catalyzing breakthroughs in the understanding of oncoprotein signaling and the development of novel therapeutic approaches for cancers driven by the mutant KRAS protein. Dr. Lito’s fundamental research directly translates to patients and he served as one of the principal investigators of the first­in­human clinical trial testing the effect of KRAS G12C inhibitors, work that helped establish the first FDA-approved KRAS-directed therapy for lung cancer patients.
  • Ian Myles, M.D., Chief, Epithelial Therapeutics Unit, Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at NIH, for his exploration of the skin condition atopic dermatitis, allergy and microbial dysbiosis—an imbalance of the body’s microbial communities that cause inflammation—leading to the development of the first in-human trial of topical microbiome transplantation using Roseomonas mucosa in treating atopic dermatitis.

Michael J. Welsh, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, University of Iowa, served as Chair of the Trailblazer Prize jury, alongside the following members:

  • Barry Coller, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs, Physician in Chief, David Rockefeller Professor
  • Michael Fox, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School; 2018 FNIH Trailblazer Prize Recipient
  • Helen H. Hobbs, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • John I. Gallin, M.D., NIH Associate Director for Clinical Research and Chief Scientific Officer, NIH Clinical Center
  • Crystal Mackall, M.D., Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Stanford University
  • Steven M. Paul, M.D., Chairman of the Board, FNIH; Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Karuna Therapeutics, Inc., and Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures

The FNIH is grateful to Fred and Donna Seigel and Novalis LifeSciences for being Visionary Sponsors of the 2021 FNIH Awards Ceremony. For more information about the FNIH Awards Ceremony and sponsorship opportunities, visit fnih.org/AwardsCeremony.

For more information about the Trailblazer Prize, visit fnih.org/TrailblazerPrize.

About the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health creates and manages alliances with public and private institutions in support of the mission of the NIH, the world’s premier medical research agency. The Foundation, also known as the FNIH, works with its partners to accelerate biomedical research and strategies against diseases and health concerns in the United States and across the globe. The FNIH organizes and administers research projects; supports education and training of new researchers; organizes educational events and symposia; and administers a series of funds supporting a wide range of health issues. Established by Congress in 1990, the FNIH is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

For more information about the FNIH, please visit fnih.org.

Media Contact:
Katherine Thompson
Director of Communications, FNIH
kthompons@fnih.org | 240.383.5335