Philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen has announced an initial commitment of $100 million to create The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, whose purpose will be to explore the landscape of bioscience and fund ideas at the frontier of knowledge to advance science and make the world better. As part of the launch, the Frontiers Group announces its first cohort of funded projects with four new Allen Distinguished Investigators (ADI) and two Allen Discovery Centers in partnership with Stanford University and Tufts University.
"To make the kind of transformational advances we seek and thus shape a better future, we must invest in scientists willing to pursue what some might consider out-of-the-box approaches at the very edges of knowledge," said Allen. "This of course entails a risk of setbacks and failures. But without risk, there is rarely significant reward, and unless we try truly novel approaches, we may never find the answers we seek."
The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, will engage in continuous dialogue with scientists, visionaries and innovators around the world via external listening tours, workshops, symposia and major events. The group will synthesize their findings to find the untapped areas of exploration that will lead to transformational insights and achievements in science.
There will be two paths for funding new ideas: the Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and catalytic impact and the Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research.
Tom Skalak, Ph.D., is the founding executive director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. He was previously the vice president for research at the University of Virginia, where he conducted bioengineering research for 28 years, spanning topics from the cellular basis of microvascular adaptation to computational modeling of tissue pattern formation, and is a past-president of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
"Over the next 50 years bioscience will undergo a radical transformation as advancements in life sciences converge with mathematics, physical sciences and engineering," said Skalak. "The time is now to make this type of transformative investment in bioscience to advance the field and ultimately to make the world better."
"Paul Allen is a visionary who has proven that it's possible to tackle scientific advancements in new ways," said Allan Jones, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Allen Institute. "The Frontiers Group will be identifying those breakthroughs yet to come, complementing his ongoing significant investments in the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Allen Institute for Cell Science."
The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group's unique approach and landscape perspective are crucial to uncovering the creative ideas that span disciplines and will revolutionize scientific thinking.
David Baltimore, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate, former president of Caltech, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Frontiers Group, said, "Paul Allen has a compelling long-range vision and refreshing openness to new ideas, which is essential for exploration. The Frontiers Group is cultivating a special culture of creative involvement that will encourage the larger scientific community to continuously re-invent itself, a hallmark of great science."
The Frontiers Group announces the first round of funded projects with four new Allen Distinguished Investigators and two inaugural Allen Discovery Centers. Additional Allen Discovery Centers and Allen Distinguished Investigators will be identified and named via both curation and open competitions periodically throughout a ten year period.