Conferred annually, these awards form Tier 3 of the institute's Reward and Recognition Program. They recognize truly exceptional contributions by individuals and teams that have been critical to the continued success of the institute and are based on nominations from throughout the Broad community — this year, there were so many worthy candidates that we created an entirely new category to recognize COVID-related achievements.
Watch a recording of the awards ceremony and read about the awardees below:
Excellence in collaboration and support of science
Maria (Masha) Alimova
Masha’s expertise in image-based screening assays for compounds has been the driving force behind the discovery of a new potential treatment for an inherited form of kidney disease in collaboration with Anna Greka’s lab. She developed the necessary screen and used it to probe more than 50,000 compounds for this disease, leading to the discovery of a promising drug candidate. In addition to her collaborations across many projects, Masha has been the impetus behind the relaunch of the CDoT imaging core. She championed an accessible, affordable, and customizable imaging support model to enable novel assay development, project tracking, and training.
Scott Sassone and Russell Murachver
Communications, Broad Video Production Team
Although Scott and Russell have long been unsung heroes for their work to communicate Broad science clearly and compellingly in video format, their work has been particularly essential during the pandemic. They were critical in moving Broad meetings large and small, internal and external, to an online format smoothly and seamlessly.
Data Sciences Platform
Jonathan is the product manager leading the DUOS service for ethical and secure data sharing, and co-lead for the GA4GH Data Use and Research Identity workstream. One impressive achievement is his years-long effort to build trust with NIH leaders and convince them to pilot DUOS. He consistently demonstrated how DUOS enhances the usage of NIH-funded datasets. As a result, he’s attracted interest in this system from the UK and Australia, as well as throughout the Broad.
Excellence in management
Ashley is a great mentor and manager, who takes the time to foster a collaborative community among her team members. With COVID, she has taken this to a new level with innovative approaches to keeping her team engaged and connected, through resources such as virtual BootCamp webinars, Slack channels for extended post-meeting discussion, and a “question of the week” during team meetings. She has also actively led anti-racist efforts in the Cancer Program, collecting ideas from the community and working to put them into practice.
Cancer Program, Tumor Immunotherapy Development Engine (TIDE)
Arvin leads three fast-paced projects but never fails to prioritize the five RAs he works with, taking the time to guide them through complex concepts, challenge them to critically examine their results, and engaging them in experimental planning.
Nicole Brellenthin and Sira Dooley-Fairchild
Eric Lander’s Office
This “dynamic duo” of kind, thoughtful, and professional senior administrators track and manage a highly complex calendar and to-do list. They also support the Lander Lab with onboarding, scheduling group meetings, and planning events to enhance the cohesion of the research group.
Amber began as an RA in the lab, then served as a project coordinator. She was promoted to lab manager for her organizational skills, resourcefulness, and forward-thinking prowess. She takes the lead on lab-wide communications for the 50+ member group, anticipates and addresses problems before they arise, and has maintained a positive and flexible working atmosphere, even during the challenges of the pandemic.
Excellence in science or engineering
Stanley Center, Hail Team
Her expertise in computational biology and distributed systems software engineering has enabled her to build computational tools widely used by biologists. Particularly notable is her development of Hail Batch, which lets researchers quickly and cost-efficiently do large-scale data analyses in the Cloud. Hail Batch was essential to the analysis of more than 7,000 traits in 6 different ancestry groups from the UK Biobank. It allowed her team to compress 4 million hours of computer time into just a few days!
Donald’s creativity, focus, and perseverance have led to two hard-won successes with challenging drug targets in inflammatory bowel disease. In one of these projects, he devised a successful strategy for a workhorse pipeline to optimize compounds for greater selectivity and potency. That work has now resulted in a proof of concept of the drug in vivo.
AJ manages a wide-ranging portfolio of projects, contributing key scientific insights to enable scientific decisions and strategies. For example, he played a key role in a Stanley therapeutics project targeting GSK3, by identifying the cause of clinical toxicity, which allowed for the development of new, less toxic therapies. AJ has also developed new capabilities such as variant mapping and virtual screening that are being used across many CDoT projects. His expertise, enthusiasm for science, dedication, and team spirit have also been impactful across the Broad, including in projects targeting prion disease and malaria.
Excellence in mentorship, teaching or training
Travis serves as the lab’s safety officer and is a dedicated mentor who has trained many of the rotation students who have ultimately joined the group, as well as other new members of the lab. Travis also organized the reduced lab occupancy schedule to allow the group’s research to continue during the pandemic.
Avtar goes above and beyond in training new team members and ensuring that the RAs he works with continue to learn and develop as scientists. He is generous with his time and invests in the professional development of younger scientists, making the effort to leverage his own personal connections to broaden the networks of RAs and help their careers.
Cancer Program, Macosko and Stevens Labs
Mike shows extraordinary patience and generosity when training younger researchers on a new protocol, answering questions, and overall supporting them in their careers. He also serves as a role model of time management, balancing his own projects between two labs, while making time to meet with and train RAs and encouraging their own work-life balance.
Brian has mentored young scientists from a variety of backgrounds, including year-long chemistry interns and undergraduates, four of whom come from underrepresented groups in STEM. He often works with individuals with no prior research experience, helping them become productive and independent scientists and co-authors on papers, and completely changing their career trajectories.
Bass Group and Cancer Program
Affectionately known as the “Cancer Program’s Therapist,” Ed provides his wisdom and advice to researchers and colleagues at all stages of their careers, from RAs to PIs. From his very first interactions with his RA mentees, Ed places their professional development goals at the forefront, making use of his own wide network to connect his mentees to relevant experts. He trains his mentees to be good scientists, leading them to the answer through the questions he asks, rather than just telling them the answer.
Data Sciences Platform
Mehrtash combines technical excellence with a strong interest in the growth and development of his team members. Researchers from undergrads to postdocs remark that he takes the time to explain and discuss difficult concepts and offers his help with enthusiasm.
Phil is a quintessential listener - a critical skill that he passes on to new mentors. He also cares about the well-being of his team as a whole - for example, to keep morale up during the pandemic, he designed and built a virtual “escape room” game for his team to enjoy!
Excellence in community engagement
Shades@Broad: This award goes to 40 individuals, including the members of the Shades Steering Committee and members of the Asian-Asian American, LatinX, and African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean subcommittees.
Shades devoted their energy to guiding Broadies through multiple national crises. Shades members have worked extremely hard this past year to educate the entire community on how to be anti-racist, and brainstorm and implement strategies for the Institute to enact. They carried out this mission in addition to their normal day jobs while facing the personal turmoil of the protests and pandemic. This is a testament to their devotion to making the Broad, and the world, a better place.
Extraordinary Work Related to the COVID pandemic
Rose Circeo, Amanda Esposito, Alana Folsom, Rhonda O'Keefe, Kelley Raasch, and Christine Sohn
COVID-19 Core Team
This group met daily from March through June to plan and implement the rapid wind-down in partnership with scientific and admin groups. They also implemented the controlled ramp-up, including partnering with many teams to set up Covid testing, signage, density targets, and scheduling. The Core Team drafted and built an intranet resource site over a weekend, expanding and maintaining it throughout the pandemic to provide Broadies with the latest information and coordinated the launch of new efforts to support our community.
COVID-19 data management
In March, Chris volunteered to help bring order to the more than 50 spreadsheets that labs and groups had sent us, listing thousands of Broadies and their different winddown designations. The infrastructure Chris built – which he still maintains – allows us to have important numbers at our fingertips, such as how density is changing in the building and where. Chris’s tool was central for planning the ramp-up, and also supports our COVID testing program.
Rachel Buckley and Kerri Paquette
Onsite COVID-19 testing management
In May, Rachel and Kerri set up the testing program, working with Facilities, Communications, the GP, Procurement, and Color to figure out the logistics of testing Broadies in the lobby and auditorium. They also partnered with HR to hire employees, and worked with the rotating staff of clinicians. Rachel and Kerri have been critical in getting Broadies comfortable with this new part of working onsite, ensuring smooth operations, and allowing research to continue safely in the building.
Lennie Kim and Lee O’Neil
Lennie and Lee monitored the questions, answered a large number of them — often hundreds a day — and assigned out others. They are invaluable in identifying which questions still needed to be answered for the community and helping people get much-needed information. Their patience, friendliness, and accuracy have helped — and are continuing to help — hundreds of Broadies get their questions answered in a timely and personalized way.
Broad’s COVID-19 Diagnostic Processing Dashboard
Ben single-handedly came up with the idea and built the dashboard, including a mechanism for capturing real-time testing volume data from the Broad’s systems. The site has allowed the COVID testing team to share its work with the world, illustrate the platform’s massive scale and capacity, and fulfill its regulatory reporting requirements. His efforts are a crucial part of the Broad’s pandemic response.
Christine Loreth and Sushma Chaluvadi
Christine and Sushma worked hard to make much-needed genomic data on the SARS-CoV-2 virus available to researchers everywhere. They stepped up to build new infrastructure for piping newly-generated viral genomic data from sequencers into workspaces in Terra. They cleared a variety of technical, organizational, and bureaucratic hurdles to make critical data transparent, reproducible, and meaningful for researchers in the Sabeti lab and beyond. And they did this all while maintaining their regular work. Through their tireless efforts, Christine and Sushma have helped advance our understanding of the virus and its transmission and spread.
Klarman Cell Observatory
During the ramp-down, Toni was one of the KCO’s earliest and most ardent volunteers to keep coming into the lab to study COVID-19 patient samples. She trained to work in the BL3 lab and learned how to handle and process human tissues for single-cell genomics. She had to adapt protocols for the BL3 facility, and often worked until late at night to process samples promptly after they arrived at the lab. As a result, Toni and her colleagues were able to build a biobank with more than 400 specimens. These samples are the foundation for important research that is already yielding insight into the biological mechanisms of COVID-19.
These 60-plus individuals helped keep all Broadies safe and our science and operations moving forward during the pandemic. Each of the quarterbacks served with selfless devotion to their teams, working with the COVID-19 leadership team, EHS, Facilities, HR, Procurement, and many others to establish creative and often unusual logistics to keep groups working smoothly. These enormous tasks were in addition to their “normal” work, which they all continued without serious interruption.
COVID-19 Antibody Team
Made up of more than 40 Broadies from IDMP and CDoT and an army of volunteers — rapidly validated, optimized, and scaled up everything from intake to assays to analysis pipelines to report generation — so that they could process thousands of samples. Broad has quickly become the national center for this work, with every serum sample administered in the US through the FDA program coming here for analysis.
COVID-19 cross-Broad research team
This group of 55 scientists, from more than 11 labs and groups at the Broad rapidly pivoted to COVID-19 research at the start of the pandemic and continued to work onsite throughout the wind-down. No area has gone uncovered by this group: from biology and genetics to epidemiology, therapeutics, and diagnostics. These dedicated scientists worked around the clock, sometimes in long shifts, with a tremendous amount of vision, poise, and leadership — to make sure the Broad’s response to the pandemic is as wide-ranging and impactful as possible. In less than 6 months, these researchers have made multiple foundational discoveries that are now being shared in pre-prints, publications, and large-scale data releases.
Broad Institute Special Recognition Award
The entire team at the GP running the COVID testing facility
They built one of the world’s largest COVID-19 testing facilities from scratch, and work 24-7 to process up to 100,000 tests a day, with average turnaround times of less than 24 hours. In March, the GP, in partnership with many other groups at the Broad, took just two weeks to stand up the PCR test and transform its CLIA-certified lab into a COVID testing facility. Throughout the pandemic, the team never stopped improving and scaling up their systems. What we thought was nearly impossible back in March — 100,000 tests a day — is now routine. The facility has processed more than 6 million tests in total. We have consistently been processing 4 to 5 percent of all tests daily in the United States.
This kind of rapid, reliable, and regular surveillance testing is having an enormous impact. The testing, along with other important safety precautions, is helping keep some of our most vulnerable populations safer, such as in nursing homes, homeless shelters, and hard-hit towns. It is helping countless people, including Broadies, go to work and school more safely. This team has saved countless lives.