Five School of Medicine scientists have been named Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Faculty Scholars in recognition of their potential to make unique contributions to their fields.

This newly established program—a joint endeavor of HHMI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Simons Foundation—supports early career basic researchers with more than four and up to 10 years of experience. The investigators were chosen based on their innovative approaches to solving biology-related problems that are relevant to human health.

Daniel A. Colón-Ramos, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience, is using Caenorhabditis elegans, also known as roundworms, to explore the cellular mechanisms used to create, maintain, and modify synapses in order to further understanding of their role in producing behaviors and storing memories.

Antonio J. Giraldez, Ph.D., professor of genetics, seeks to understand how the cellular codes that shape gene expression are used to turn a fertilized egg into a complex multicellular embryo. Using zebrafish as a model system, he aims to shed light on the mechanisms that initiate embryonic development and specify different cell types in vertebrates.

Andrew Goodman, Ph.D., associate professor of microbial pathogenesis, is exploring the mechanisms that human commensal microbes—those normally found in the body—use to cooperate, compete, and antagonize each other in the gut and how manipulating these communities could improve drug responses in patients.

Valentina Greco, Ph.D., associate professor of genetics, is investigating how stem cells initiate and coordinate tissue regeneration to maintain healthy tissues and restore damaged tissue after injury, and how tissues respond to cells with cancer-promoting mutations, which will shed light on the earliest events that lead to cancer.

Carla V. Rothlin, Ph.D., associate professor of immunobiology and of pharmacology, is studying the biochemical mechanisms that control the immune response and lead to inflammation that can trigger autoimmune disorders or fuel cancer.

“Promising young faculty members are the backbone of our ability to continue to conduct groundbreaking research,” says Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Ensign Professor of Medicine. “I am proud that HHMI has chosen to support five of our most accomplished investigators.” Yale’s five awardees, as many as were chosen from any medical school, are among just 84 Faculty Scholars selected from a pool of more than 1,400 applicants.