Three projects with the potential to open new avenues in science and engineering — mapping the body’s “electrome,” miniaturizing imagers to monitor the environment and human health, and accelerating gene editing for the treatment of disease — have been selected for funding through Princeton’s Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund.
“These are early-stage projects with tremendous potential to enable scientific discoveries and technological innovations that can benefit society at large,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “These projects have transformative potential but are so groundbreaking that they carry some risk, and we are grateful to Eric and Wendy Schmidt for their generosity and their vision in recognizing the importance of funding this stage of research.”
Michelle Chan, assistant professor of molecular biology and genomics together with with Daniel J. Cohen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering aim to create comprehensive maps of living organisms’ electrical landscape, or "electrome," forming an atlas that researchers can use to predict how applying electrical stimulation can cause a corresponding change in a given cell type.
Ricardo Mallarino, assistant professor of molecular biology together with Fenna Krienen, assistant professor of neuroscience will develop minimally invasive technologies that enable the addition or deletion of large DNA fragments and the ability to “write” new genetic information into a specific DNA site, expanding the repertoire of gene-editing approaches to additional mammalian species.
The fund was created in 2009 through a gift from Eric and Wendy Schmidt. Eric Schmidt is the former Chief Executive Officer of Google and former Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Wendy Schmidt is a businesswoman and philanthropist. Eric Schmidt earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Princeton in 1976 and served as a Princeton Trustee from 2004 to 2008.