Dr. Phatnani and Dr. Yamamoto Awarded NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Grants

October 5, 2021

Phatnani and Yamamoto belong to one of 19 individuals or teams to receive a Transformative Research Award, which promotes unconventional projects with the potential to create new paradigms or overturn existing ones. 

Dr. Ai Yamamoto and Dr. Hemali Phatnani

Ai Yamamoto, PhD and Hemali Phatnani, PhD

The researchers' project focuses on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Unlike most ALS researchers who look for genetic mutations to reveal how the disease arises, the Phatnani and Yamamoto team will explore whether physical changes within cells caused by molecular overcrowding may underlie the disorder. If so, the research would alter the view of ALS pathogenesis and provide a new framework to find better therapies for the disease.

The five-year project is a collaboration of the Phatnani and Yamamoto labs at Columbia; Liam Holt, PhD, at New York University; Jenna Gregory, PhD, at the University of Edinburgh; and the New York Genome Center, where Phatnani is a core faculty member and director of the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease. At VP&S, Phatnani is assistant professor of neurological sciences (in neurology), and Yamamoto is associate professor of neurology and of pathology & cell biology.