Columbia Professor Wins NIH Award for Innovative, High-Impact Biomedical Research

October 03, 2018
Ravi Tomer

Raju Tomer has won a NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, for his pioneering work in developing new technologies for high-resolution mapping of brain structure and function.

Tomer joined Columbia in 2016 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences with affiliations to the Data Science Institute and NeuroTechnology Center.

The National Institutes of Health award, which provides $2.4 million over five years, supports unusually innovative research from early-career investigators within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency who have not yet received a research project grant or equivalent NIH grant.

The grant is part of the NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program, which supports ideas with potential for great impact in biomedical research from across the broad scope of the NIH.

The program supports compelling, high-risk research proposals that may struggle in the traditional peer review process despite their transformative potential. Program applicants are encouraged to pursue creative, trailblazing ideas in any area of research.

“This program supports exceptionally innovative researchers who have the potential to transform the biomedical field,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. “I am confident this new cohort will revolutionize our approaches to biomedical research through their groundbreaking work.”

Tomer completed his undergraduate studies at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, and his Ph.D. at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Heidelberg), where he developed and applied novel methods to unravel the deep evolutionary origins of cell-types in the brain.

In postdoctoral studies in the lab of Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University, Tomer developed pioneering microscopy and histological technologies for high-resolution mapping of brain structure and function. Currently in his lab at Columbia, Tomer continues to develop new approaches for understanding structural and functional plasticity in the normal and diseased brains.

—By Carla Cantor