November 2019

Vallee Scholar wins Allen Distinguished Investigator Award

Congratulations to Samantha Morris, PhD, (VS 2017) who has just been named one of this year's Allen Distinguished Investigators! Samantha, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, is focused on understanding how cell identity can be manipulated via direct lineage reprogramming. Researchers have been working for years to develop stem cell therapies that could repair or replace diseased organs, but spurring human stem cells to develop into healthy, mature types of cells in the lab has proven difficult. Samantha aims to create a “blueprint” of cell identity that will enable researchers to improve the way they generate different kinds of cells from human stem cells, with the ultimate goal of delivering on the promise of stem cell therapy.

Samantha Morris is one of five awardees each of whom will receive $1.5 million in research support over three years. “This award is enabling us to take a big risk in our arena by generating a completely new technology, one which will be useful to the scientific community. That’s really exciting for us,” said Dr Morris.  

The Allen Distinguished Investigator program began in 2010 to support early-stage research that is less likely to receive support from traditional funding sources, but which has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of biology. With the 2019 awards, there are a total of 74 Allen Distinguished Investigators appointed since the program’s inception.  Read more