Elife Ben Barres spotlight award has announced the two runners-up and 10 winners of the year 2022. As it’s the fourth year of the award, it seeks to promote catalytic changes for researchers from groups that are underrepresented in the life sciences and medicines.

During the second year of the award, this was open to the authors of preprints and was not just limited to e-life. This change was introduced in the year 2021, which help support researchers in embracing new publishing models. Over 10℅ eligible applications were made this year based on Reviewed preprint as compared to the last year.  

Here are the 12 winners of the Ben Barres Spotlight Awards of eLife 2022, who contributed to the platform as researchers:-

1. Charles Agoti:   He leads a research group, within the Kenya Medical Research Institute–Wellcome Trust Research Programme, that characterizes the molecular epidemiology of a range of viruses that cause respiratory and intestinal infections in humans. To visit collaborators he uses funds in Belgium to explore how they can further use the extensive genomic datasets his lab is creating in Kenya. 

2. Felipe Aguilera : 

 Felipe Aguilera is an early-career group leader at Universidad de Concepción in Chile working with marine model organisms to understand the nature and evolution of genome-encoded rules that regulate animal development and regeneration. In a statement, Felipe said that ” This resource, which will be available to students, postdocs, and our collaborators, will allow us to significantly extend our current research lines.”

3. Karthika Rajeev :  

She is a staff scientist at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in India working on the human pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Her research focuses on how these pathogens evade the host immune system.

4. Kumarasamypet M Mohankumars :  

His research group in India aims to develop genome-editing strategies to treat genetic blood disorders like sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia. In one of the statements, he expressed that the award will “help us extend our published preclinical work to in vivo models and, in turn, evaluate its potential clinical applications”.

5. Maria Cecilia Martinez : 

 She is an early early-career group leader at Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina working towards understanding how learning works in rat brains.

Cecilia says: “Open-source tools, like the one we will acquire, are a great contribution toward equality in science and key to enabling access for starting researchers.”

6. Mariana De Niz :

 Niz is a parasitologist and microscopist investigating disease mechanisms of Plasmodium and Trypanosoma and is currently based in Mexico. Her award will go towards a project to engage with autistic children and adolescents to promote interest in science by building open-source microscopes.

7. Nathalie Escande- Beillard:  

Nathalie is an early-career group leader at Koç University School of Medicine, Turkey. Her team collaborates with clinicians to understand the causes of rare genetic diseases – including muscular dystrophy and aging diseases – and recently had a study reviewed via Review Commons.

8.  Olavo Bohrer Amaral :   

He leads a group at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Olavo says that ” This award will help increase diversity in science by kickstarting the Brazilian Reproducibility Network,” which is an initiative that focuses on improving collaboration and promoting reproducible research in Brazil that will launch in 2023.

9. Raphael Mendonça Guimarães :   

Raphael is a public health researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and the corresponding author of a recent preprint reporting on COVID-19 excess mortality in Brazil, which was reviewed by ASAPbio–SciELO preprints crowd review.

He says that “The award will kick-start the construction of a data analysis laboratory and help me strengthen networks with researchers from other countries.”

10. Reeteka Sud :  

 Reeteka Sud is an early-career group leader at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India. Her group studies the cellular basis of severe mental illnesses, and she has a recent preprint reviewed by PeerRef. Reeteka stated that: “I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to use the latest technological breakthroughs in our model system and bring those techniques to our lab in India.”

Names of two Runners-up:- 

1.Alicia Kowaltowski:  

Alicia Kowaltowski leads a lab at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil and she is studying the role of mitochondria in metabolism. Alicia included that “Initiatives highlighting the importance of quality research and preprints are essential. I was very happy to have our preprint reviewed by ASAPbio, and this award is the icing on the cake.”

2. Ivan Huespe:  

Ivan Huespe is a Ph.D. student at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires in Argentina developing predictive machine learning models to estimate clinical outcomes in critical care. Ivan shares: “I am happy that this award will help me connect with some of the most important researchers in my area.”

123 application was received this year that met the eligibility criteria. The group thanks all the reviewers, including Aalok Varma, Ailís OCarroll, Akira Shinohara, Andy Tay, Ashlea Shaw, Ashleigh Griffin, Aya Ito-Ishida, Bavesh Kana, Carlos Isales, Carolina Quezada, Claude Desplan, Daisy Veysey, David Donoso, Divyansh Mittal, Elizabeth Ochola, Erin Rich, Florencia Fernandez Chiappe, Florent Ginhoux, Helena Pérez Valle, John Huguenard, Joon-Yong An, Lana Sinapayen, María Isabel Geli, Maria Zambrano, Murim Choi, Rachel Tonkin, Regina Mencia, Sarah Russell, Satyajit Rath, Sofia Araújo, Subburaman Mohan and Yuxin Chen. 

 Since 2019, The Ben Barres Spotlight Awards have been given each year in memory of the American neurobiologist Ben Barres, a transgender researcher who advocated for equality in science and was a Reviewing Editor at eLife from 2015 to 2016. This year’s fund has been fully distributed; further funding will be available in late 2023.


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