The Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists (Trailblazer Prize) recognizes the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists whose work has the potential to or has led to innovations in patient care. This $10,000 honorarium and prize is made possible by a generous donation from John I. Gallin, MD, and Elaine Gallin, PhD, to the FNIH.
The prize was awarded at the FNIH 11th Annual Awards Ceremony on October 18, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Please email [email protected] with questions.
2023 Award Recipient
Vinod Balachandran, MD
Physician-scientist, Immuno-Oncology Service of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program Hepatopancreatobiliary surgical oncologist
Immunology group leader, David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Balachandran discovered that rare long-term survivors of pancreatic cancer have unique tumors enriched in neoantigens – foreign proteins arising from cancer mutations – which may trigger immune cells to keep pancreatic cancers in check. He is now translating these laboratory discoveries into new immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer, including the first clinical trials of personalized mRNA vaccines that target neoantigens to provoke the patient’s immune system to recognize their individual cancer. This pioneering work has the potential to transform the treatment of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest malignancies, and provide proof of concept for future cancer vaccines.
Dr. Balachandran was selected as the 2023 Trailblazer Prize recipient by a jury of distinguished biomedical research leaders:
Michael J. Welsh, MD, PhD, Chair
Director, Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, University of Iowa
Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD
Howard Y. Chang, M.D., Ph.D., Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Dermatology and Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine
Barry S. Coller, MD
Vice President for Medical Affairs, Physician in Chief, David Rockefeller Professor, The Rockefeller University
John I. Gallin, MD
Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Director of the NIH Clinical Center
Helen H. Hobbs, MD
Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Timothy J. Ley, MD
Lewis T. and Rosalind B. Apple Chair in Oncology, Professor of Medicine and of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD
Executive Vice President, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Steven M. Paul, MD
Chair, FNIH Board of Directors, President of Research & Development and Chief Scientific Officer at Karuna Therapeutics, Inc., and Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures
Christine E. Seidman, MD
Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Director, Cardiovascular Genetics Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (SFARI) and Simons Foundation Neuroscience Collaborations
Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Associate Member of the Broad Institute, and a medical oncologist at Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care.
Dr. Van Allen used innovative computational approaches to help determine the impact of both inherited and environmental factors on cancer and the influence of genes on an individual’s response to cancer treatment.Learn more
Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Institute Member of the Broad Institute, and an oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Wagle developed novel gene sequencing approaches to profile cancer mutations that affect treatment response and drug resistance.Learn more
Associate Member and Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Lito received the Trailblazer Prize for catalyzing breakthroughs in the understanding of oncoprotein signaling and the development of novel therapeutic approaches for cancers driven by the mutant KRAS protein.Learn more
Associate Professor of Neurology in the Division of Neuroimmunology and Glial Biology at the University of California San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Dr. Wilson received the Trailblazer Prize for pioneering a next-generation diagnostic approach to pinpoint infectious causes of inflammatory conditions of the central nervous system.Learn more
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Fox received the Trailblazer Prize for developing innovative techniques to map human brain connectivity that can be translated into new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression.Learn More
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Dr. Macosko developed Drop-seq and Slide-seq technologies that analyze genes expressed at the single-cell level and provide a deeper understanding of the molecular and cellular biology of the brain and other organsLearn More
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Traverso developed orally administered delivery systems of medications that reside in the gastric cavity for prolonged periods, as well as systems that enable the delivery of biologics, like insulin, orally.Learn More
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Bauer pioneered research on genetic editing that can be translated into therapies for blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.Learn More
Assistant Professor of Dermatology, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (BMG), Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Dr. Choi used genomics to identify mutations in skin cells that can lead to autoinflammatory diseases and cancer, and inspiring novel therapeutic approaches for these diseases.Learn More