The Termeer Foundation Selects Inaugural Termeer Scholars: Omar Abudayyeh & Jonathan Gootenberg of MIT to Receive Grant

Jun 22, 2022

Launch of Termeer Scholars Program Will Support Biomedical Researchers and Bring Emerging Talent into the Foundation’s Network of Biotech Innovators

BOSTON, MA, June 22, 2022 — The Termeer Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on connecting life science innovators and catalyzing the creation of new medicines, today announced the inaugural recipients of the 2022 Termeer Scholars Awards. These prestigious new awards support emerging biomedical researchers developing scientific advances like new medicines and diagnostics that represent the future of the biotechnology industry and the potential to positively impact patients’ lives.

This year’s co-recipients of the Termeer Scholars Award are Omar Abudayyeh and Jonathan Gootenberg, McGovern Institute Fellows at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) whose lab is leveraging natural biological systems, including CRISPR biology, to develop a suite of tools for next-generation cellular engineering. These tools have been adopted by researchers over the world and formed the basis for four companies that Omar and Jonathan have co-founded. They will receive a $50,000 grant to support professional development, knowledge advancement and/or stakeholder engagement and will become part of The Termeer Foundation’s signature Network of Termeer Fellows (first-time CEOs and entrepreneurs) and Mentors (experienced industry leaders).

“The Termeer Foundation is working to improve the long odds of biotechnology by identifying and supporting future biotech leaders; if we help them succeed as leaders, we can help their innovations reach patients. While our Termeer Fellows program has supported first time CEOs and entrepreneurs for the past five years, our new Termeer Scholars program will provide much needed support to the researchers whose innovative ideas represent the future of the biotechnology industry – researchers like Omar and Jonathan,” said Alan Walts, Co-Founder and Member of the Board of Directors for The Termeer Foundation.

The Abudayyeh-Gootenberg lab at MIT is developing a suite of new tools to enable next-generation cellular engineering, with uses in basic research, therapeutics and diagnostics. Building off the revolutionary biology of natural biological systems, including mobile genetic elements and CRISPR systems, the team develops new approaches for understanding and manipulating genomes, transcriptomes and cellular fate. The technologies have broad applications, including in oncology, aging and genetic disease.

Omar Abudayyeh is a McGovern Institute Fellow at MIT. He was part of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program as an MD/PhD student and completed his doctoral work in Feng Zhang’s lab at the Broad Institute, where his research centered on novel CRISPR enzymes for applications in genome editing, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Dr. Abudayyeh was recognized as a Technology Review TR35 Innovator, Endpoints 20 under 40 awardee, 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 in Science and Health Care, and Business Insider 30 under 30.

Jonathan Gootenberg is a McGovern Institute Fellow at MIT and received his PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard University, during which he conducted research with Aviv Regev and Feng Zhang at the McGovern Institute and Broad Institute. During his PhD, Gootenberg focused on the development of molecular technologies for treating and sensing disease states, crossing disciplines by utilizing novel computational techniques, microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to uncover new CRISPR tools, including Cas12 and Cas13. He and his co-authors developed Cas13 into a toolbox with uses in fundamental research, therapeutics, and diagnostics. He has received multiple awards, including the Technology Review TR35, Forbes 30 Under 30, Endpoints 20 Under 40, and Business Insider 30 and Under.

“The Termeer Foundation is committed to championing emerging biotechnology leaders and finding people who want to solve the biggest problems in human health,” said Belinda Termeer, President of The Termeer Foundation. “By supporting researchers like Omar and Jonathan, we plant the seeds for future success in individuals who are preparing to make significant contributions in academia and industry.” Abudayyeh and Gootenberg were honored at the Termeer Foundation’s annual dinner in Boston on June 16, 2022. The event also recognized the 2022 class of Termeer Fellows.

About The Termeer Foundation

The Termeer Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to connect the world of healthcare innovators until every patient has a cure. We build and support an ever-expanding network of biotech entrepreneurs, CEOs, academics, and other innovators because we believe that helping people succeed will ultimately help their innovations reach patients. Our support includes mentoring, networking, professional development, and financial grants intended to facilitate connections, break down silos, strengthen skillsets and ultimately enable a diverse array of current and future healthcare leaders who bring much-needed solutions to patients. Find out more about The Termeer Foundation and how you can support, engage with, and join our network at or on LinkedIn @TermeerFoundation.

Erica Mawby-Roche
Termeer Foundation

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