The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group announces collaborative projects

Alf Honigmann, Meritxell Huch and André Nadler are new Allen Distinguished Investigators.

© MPI-CBG / Katrin Boes

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, today announced eight awards of $1.25 million each to fund research projects led by 16 new Allen Distinguished Investigators. Among the new Allen Distinguished Investigators are Meritxell Huch, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, Germany, André Nadler, Senior Research Group Leader at MPI-CBG and Alf Honigmann, Chair of Biophysics at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of the TU Dresden and former MPI-CBG research group leader. They receive the funding for their joint project “Visualizing lipid nutrient turnover in human tissue models”. Together, these awards represent a total of approximately $10 million in funding from the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, which supports cutting-edge, early-stage research projects that promise to advance the fields of biology and medicine.

With their collaborative project, Nadler, Huch and Honigmann are aiming to apply a technology they developed to visualize fats in cells using a fluorescence microscopy. Our bodies are built on fats and their molecular cousins, collectively known as lipids. These slippery molecules construct our cell walls and store 90% of our energy, and their dysregulation is associated with diseases like diabetes and fatty liver disease. Lipids cannot easily be visualized in cells, which complicates analyses of their biological functions. The researchers address this issue head-on in their project and will use their technology to study the turnover and transport of lipids in laboratory models of the intestine and the liver, two organs essential for metabolism.

The eight awarded projects were selected from open calls for proposals in two fields: protein lifespan and nutrient sensing. To choose research areas that they recommend for funding, the Frontiers Group looks for emerging fields where an investment could be catalytic to advance scientific progress — not just for awardees, but for all in that particular field. 


About The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group 
The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, is dedicated to exploring the landscape of bioscience to identify and foster ideas that will change the world. The Frontiers Group recommends funding through award mechanisms to accelerate our understanding of biology, including: Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research; and Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and potential impact. The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group was founded in 2016 by the late philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen. For more information, visit