News Release

Allen Institute announces 2022 Next Generation Leaders

Six early-career neuroscientists will help guide research into the complexities of the mammalian brain

Grant and Award Announcement

Allen Institute

2022 NGL

image: Top row (from left to right): Heather Snell, Karthik Shekhar, Constantina Theofanopoulou Bottom row (from left to right) Leena Ali Ibrahim, Tahra Eissa, Kauê Machado Costa view more 

Credit: Allen Institute

SEATTLEDecember 8, 2022 — The Allen Institute today announced six new Next Generation Leaders (NGL), members of a unique neuroscience advisory panel made up of early-career researchers who will help advise research efforts at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the MindScope Program, and the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics.

The Next Generation Leaders program is now in its ninth year. This year, the newly appointed leaders are:

  1. Constantina Theofanopoulou, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor at Hunter College (City University of New York); visiting Associate Professor at Rockefeller University; and a fellow at New York University
  2. Heather Snell, Ph.D., Associate Researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Kamran Khodakhah
  3. Karthik Shekhar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California (UC) Berkeley and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
  4. Kauê Machado Costa, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow in Geoffrey Schoenbaum’s lab at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program
  5. Leena Ali Ibrahim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Bioscience at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia
  6. Tahra Eissa, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Applied Mathematics at University of Colorado Boulder

Next Generation Leaders are selected through a competitive process that includes applications from around the world. Each leader has 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.

"The NGLs joining the Council this year have traveled diverse paths in neuroscience and bring a wide range of experience in research, mentoring, and advocacy. I'm looking forward to learning from their perspectives on how we can continue building an inclusive community to tackle key questions in brain evolution, development and function," said Trygve Bakken, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and co-chair of the Next Generation Leaders Committee along with Saskia de Vries, Ph.D., Principal Product Manager at the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics.

The program also provides professional development for its members 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 Council is an unparalleled opportunity to be a part of the Allen Institute's impactful, world-changing science, and influence its future directions," said Bianca Jones Marlin, Ph.D., Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cell Research, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute and member of the Next Generation Leaders Council since 2020. "Through my interactions with my cohort and the team at Allen, I have gained deep insight into the most pressing needs in neuroscience, which has been invaluable in shaping my research projects and goals."

The Next Generation Leaders Council will convene at this year’s Showcase Symposium on December 13-14 at the Allen Institute where they will present their own research and give feedback on research presented by early-career Allen Institute researchers.


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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