Pew Funds 6 Teams to Advance Cutting-Edge Biomedical Research

PHILADELPHIA—The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today the six pairs of researchers who will make up its 2023 class of Innovation Fund investigators.

These 12 acclaimed scientists—all alumni or advisors of Pew’s biomedical programs in the United States and Latin America—will partner on interdisciplinary research projects exploring key questions in human biology and disease. Combining the researchers’ expertise in topics ranging from neuroscience and immunology to cancer biology, these collaborations will help boost scientific discovery and improve human health.

“An interdisciplinary approach to research is critical to uncovering scientific breakthroughs and making lasting change,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, senior vice president for Philadelphia and scientific advancement at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Pew is thrilled to support this exceptional group of investigators, whose collective efforts will help move the needle in important areas of health and medicine.”

For nearly 40 years, Pew has encouraged collaboration among its diverse community of biomedical scientists, leading to the 2017 launch of the Innovation Fund. The award, which is supported by the Kathryn W. Davis Peace by Pieces Fund, was developed to support creative and cross-disciplinary partnerships among alumni of Pew’s three biomedical programs. Program alums holding assistant professor positions or higher are eligible to apply.

This year’s Innovation Fund teams and research projects are:

Murakami and Li will study transcription termination, a critical step of gene regulation in a distinct group of bacteria known as cyanobacteria, which play a key role in carbon fixation and cause illness in humans and livestock.

Brady and Birsoy will team up to identify cell components that regulate—or respond to—transition metals, key dietary nutrients that maintain health in humans and other organisms.

Kiani and Li will explore what happens in the brain when we change our minds, a poorly understood aspect of decision-making.

Goldberg and Froemke will examine the unique vocalizations of songbirds and mice to better understand the ways in which animals respond to their young’s need to feed.

Leon Mejia and Brieba de Castro will investigate how the plastid, a key organelle in plants, is responsible for metabolism and nutrient production and communicates with the cell’s nucleus to respond to external stressors—work that could improve crop yield.

Littman and Birnbaum will study the pathology of the microbes and T cells that play a role in inflammatory bowel disease, an autoimmune disorder whose cause is largely unknown.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, The Pew Charitable Trusts uses data to make a difference. Pew addresses the challenges of a changing world by illuminating issues, creating common ground, and advancing ambitious projects that lead to tangible progress.

Spotlight on Mental Health

The small, round cells of a cotton stem radiate out in bands of white, light blue, and black.
The small, round cells of a cotton stem radiate out in bands of white, light blue, and black.

Scientists Break New Ground With Creative Partnerships

Quick View

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ 2023 class of Innovation Fund investigators—12 accomplished scientists with expertise in cancer biology, neuroscience, immunology, and more—are pairing up to explore challenges in human health and medicine.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.