CZI announces grants for researchers studying the role of inflammation in disease

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Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced $14 million in funding to support 29 interdisciplinary teams and build a network of researchers that will explore emerging ideas regarding the role of inflammation in disease. While inflammation is a natural defense that helps our bodies maintain a healthy state, chronic inflammation results in harmful diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and heart disease.

In this cohort, we welcome 80 researchers working on the projects, 75 percent of which are led by early-career scientists within six years of starting their independent position. Grantee teams are made up of two to three investigators with distinct areas of expertise, including physicians, experimental biologists, technology developers, and computational scientists. The awarded project teams represent 11 countries. View the full list of grantees.

Knowing more about inflammation at the level of affected cells and tissues will increase our understanding of many diseases and improve our ability to cure, prevent, or manage them. We look forward to collaborating with these interdisciplinary teams of researchers studying inflammation."

Cori Bargmann, CZI Head of Science

CZI will support these small teams to carry out two-year pilot projects focused on tissue-level inflammatory processes in diverse tissues and disease states. Several researchers are studying coronaviruses like SARS and MERS. Pilot awards are intended to help new collaborations form, establish technologies and experimental methods, and frame key questions for further investigation.

"Work on inflammation has been distributed among many fields and lacks dedicated support as a coherent discipline," said CZI Science Program Officer, Jonah Cool. "As these research teams study the cells involved in inflammation -- and the molecular mechanisms that link them -- we hope to support community growth and connect advances in inflammation that will have far-reaching impact."

Inflammation plays a role in organ failure, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and severe infectious diseases like COVID-19. Diseases associated with inflammation disproportionately affect underserved communities and vulnerable populations, highlighting the importance of making progress in this area of biology. Several funded projects will directly explore important differences depending on genetic ancestry and lifestyle.

These grants build on CZI's work in single-cell biology supporting the Human Cell Atlas, a fundamental reference for health and disease. Inflammation grantees are encouraged to think broadly about how collaboration and new technologies can be used to bring clarity to a question that touches so many diseases.

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