Samantha A. Morris, assistant professor of developmental biology and of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named a 2019 Allen Distinguished Investigator by The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute that is dedicated to accelerating the understanding of biology and exploring the frontiers of biological science. The institute was founded by Paul G. Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft Corp.
Morris is one of five investigators in the U.S. to be honored by the Allen Institute this year. Each will receive $1.5 million in funding over three years to support his or her innovative research. The funding is intended to support work that has the potential to accelerate scientific discoveries or launch entirely new avenues of exploration, according to The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group.
Morris and her team have developed a stem cell tracking system that gives scientists a new view of how cells develop. The new tracking tool could help boost the promise of stem cell therapy. This “flight data recorder” for cells one day could help scientists guide cells along the proper paths to regenerate specific tissues or organs. Similarly, it could help researchers identify the wrong turns some cells might take on their way to becoming cancerous.