Jul 26, 2022 · 5 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces Founding Scientific Team of the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging

David Agard, Bridget Carragher, and Clint Potter to Shape the New Institute’s Strategic Direction

The inner workings of an algal cell depicted with cryo-electron tomography, which aggregates multiple snapshots of a single piece of material. Visible are the endoplasmic reticulum (yellow), Golgi apparatus (green and magenta), and vesicles (multi-colored circles).
The inner workings of an algal cell as depicted with cryo-electron tomography, which aggregates multiple snapshots of a single piece of material. Visible are the endoplasmic reticulum (yellow), Golgi apparatus (green and magenta), and vesicles (multi-colored circles). | Photo credit: Y. S. Bykkov et al./eLIFE (CC BY 4.0)
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Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced the founding scientific team of the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging (CZ Imaging Institute), a new research center where disciplines will come together to develop revolutionary new imaging hardware and software tools to provide comprehensive views of biological systems in their native context.

The CZ Imaging Institute will be led by: 

  • David Agard, Founding Scientific Director 
    • Professor, Departments of Biochemistry & Biophysics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UC San Francisco
  • Bridget Carragher, Founding Technical Director 
    • Co-Director, Simons Electron Microscopy Center, New York Structural Biology Center; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University; Founder and Chief Technology Officer, NanoImaging Services, Inc.
  • Clint Potter, Founding Technical Director 
    • Co-Director, Simons Electron Microscopy Center, New York Structural Biology Center; Adjunct Professor, Columbia University; Founder and Chief Technology Officer, NanoImaging Services, Inc.

“Mark and I are thrilled that David, Bridget, and Clint will join the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging,” said CZI Co-Founder and Co-CEO Dr. Priscilla Chan. “Their collective backgrounds and complementary experiences make them the ideal team to launch this center and bring together the experts necessary to develop breakthrough biological imaging systems that will push the boundaries of what we can see and measure.”

Under the direction of our founding scientists, the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging will bring together scientists, software and hardware engineers, and application specialists to build new imaging technologies that will bring us closer to our goal of measuring human biology in action,” said CZI Co-Founder and Co-CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I look forward to collaborating with this dynamic team in the years to come.”

In December 2021, CZI announced that it was doubling down on its commitment to accelerating science with a new 10-year effort to build tools, launch institutes, and support research to observe, measure and analyze any biological process within the human body across spatial scales and in real time. Central to this commitment was the creation of a new imaging institute a physical space where disciplines can come together to develop revolutionary new imaging platforms that provide broad, full-scale views of biological systems.

“I’m thrilled to see this group of distinguished scientists come together to launch the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging, and am excited about their plans,” said CZI Head of Science Stephen Quake. “Their expertise, which ranges from understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular function to developing automated imaging techniques for solving three-dimensional structures of macromolecular complexes, makes them well-suited to build the next generation of bioimaging technologies that will accelerate biomedical science and advance human health.”

Building on the progress of CZI’s Visual Proteomics grant program, the initial scientific focus of the CZ Imaging Institute is to develop new technologies to comprehensively map proteins and other macromolecules in cells statically and dynamically. The ultimate goal is to synthesize a molecular understanding of cell structure and organization at near atomic resolution.

“Today we can visualize the structure of proteins at high resolution by averaging the images of millions of individual, purified protein molecules using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy,” said incoming Scientific Director David Agard. “We can also visualize organelles and very large complexes in the cell using cryo-electron tomography. What is missing is the ability to bridge these size scales — visualizing protein structure, interactions, and organization within the cell. Together with our colleagues we will build the teams — and the tools to get us there.”

“To observe biological processes inside cells, we will need novel imaging technologies that provide molecular specificity, along with the ability to simultaneously see all the molecules involved in the process,” said incoming Technical Director Bridget Carragher. “Along with the founding leadership team, I can’t wait to help turn this vision into reality.” 

“The creation of a state-of-the-art biological imaging institute in the San Francisco Bay Area will push forward critical new imaging technologies through high-risk, high-reward projects on 15-year timelines,” said Founding Technical Director Clint Potter. “I’m excited to help shape this institute and make it a resource for not only the imaging community, but for the scientific community more broadly.”

As an extension of the CZI Imaging program, the institute will ensure broad access to new technologies through a visiting scientist program and disseminate tools to benefit the entire imaging field. The outputs of the institute will not be measured in publications but in technologies hardware, software, biological probes, protocols, data, and platforms that are made available to the scientific community and adopted worldwide through a combination of direct access to the institute, open sharing of advances, and commercial partnerships. 

“The Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging will enable a highly interdisciplinary, collaborative, and project-based approach to research and development, combining the creativity of academia with the focused resources and support of industry,” said Stephani Otte, who leads CZI’s Imaging program. “I look forward to working alongside David, Bridget, and Clint to build the team and the tools, and to make those tools widely available to the scientific community.”

Watch Stephani Otte’s keynote talk and read her op-ed on the future of imaging from this year’s Aspen Ideas: Health festival, and learn more about the CZI Imaging program.

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About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, our mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

Press Contact

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub
Leah Duran, + 1 650-213-6170
lduran@chanzuckerberg.com

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