News Release

Allen Institute announces 2021 Next Generation Leaders

Six early-career neuroscientists will participate in unique advisory council for the Institute

Grant and Award Announcement

Allen Institute

The Allen Institute today announced six new Next Generation Leaders, members of a unique neuroscience advisory panel made up of early-career researchers. Now in its eighth year, the Next Generation Leaders Council advises neuroscience research efforts at the Allen Institute: the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the MindScope Program, and the newly launched Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics. 

Next Generation Leaders are selected each year through a competitive process that includes applications from around the world. The six Next Generation Leaders selected will each have a three-year term on the advisory council, for a total of 18 council members at any given time. As the program is focused on early-career neuroscience researchers, council members are postdoctoral fellows or newly appointed faculty members. 

“This year’s cohort are six really exciting scientists whose work spans a wide range of topics — including pediatric tumors and the death process of the octopus. These emerging scientists represent the future of our field, and I’m excited for the opportunity we have to learn about their work and for them to infuse new perspectives into our work,” said Saskia de Vries, Ph.D., Associate Investigator in the MindScope Program and co-chair of the Next Generation Leaders Committee along with Trygve Bakken, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. “I’m also inspired by how all the members engage in the broader scientific community and I hope that we will be able to partner and learn from them in that work as well.” 

The program also provides professional development for its members by offering training on how to serve as scientific advisors to other organizations, roles typically not given to scientists until they are well advanced in their careers, providing networking opportunities and peer support from Allen Institute researchers and other Next Generation Leaders, and immersing them into Allen Institute neuroscience research, data and other resources. 

“The Next Generation Leaders program does an amazing job of introducing a diverse group of early-career neuroscientists to the large network that makes up the Allen Institute. There's no better way to learn how to embrace the Allen Institute's philosophy of open-source tools and resources,” said Christina Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Davis, and a current Next Generation Leader. “Being a part of the program also allowed me to deeply interact with new colleagues in different fields, broadening my exposure and curiosity. It's rare to be able to participate in a program with investigators that cover such a wide range of questions, approaches and model organisms.”

The Next Generation Leaders Council will convene virtually at this year’s Showcase Symposium, Dec. 7-8, 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:

  • Emilia Favuzzi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute
  • Arif Hamid, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Hannah Gray Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Lucas Pinto, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Northwestern University
  • Kanaka Rajan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Jessica Tsai, M.D., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Z Yan Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Washington


About the Allen Institute

The Allen Institute is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit research organization founded by philanthropist and visionary, the late 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 and programs include the Allen Institute for Brain Science, launched in 2003, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, launched in 2014, the Allen Institute for Immunology, launched in 2018, the MindScope Program, launched in 2020, and the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics, launched in 2021. 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

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