UMass neurobiologist Chan Eviatar Yemini has been honored with the Hypothesis Fund Award

Eviatar Yemini, Ph.D

Eviatar Yemini, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, has been selected to receive an initial grant from the Hypothesis Fund, an innovative new nonprofit that relies on a network of “scout” scientists to identify and recommend new, early-stage research for funding. Dr. Yemini will use the grant to investigate how nervous system activity is reconfigured during evolution to reprogram animal behavior, with a particular focus on the adaptations of neural circuits to changing climate and environment.

“The Hypothesis Fund provides a unique and exciting opportunity for us to focus on innovations that are very early stage for traditional funders,” said Yemini. “This grant will allow us to venture into the relatively unknown areas of how evolution shapes behavioral circuits to adapt to climate and environmental change.”

The Hypothesis Fund, founded last May, supports transformational research aimed at increasing resilience to systemic risks to the health of people and the planet. The fund awards seed grants in early-stage research projects that present innovative ideas in basic research. The intent is to enable a diverse group of funded scientists to fast track their research.

A network of about 20 Scout researchers identifies seed-stage research projects and recommends them to the Hypothesis Fund. Harmeet Malik, Ph.D., an evolutionary biologist, professor and associate director at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, is the scout who recommended my work.

“Dr. Yemini’s project seeks to understand how neural circuits develop, how evolution shapes these circuits, and how these circuits respond to vastly different ecology and stimuli in the context of living, developing, and adapting organisms,” said Dr. Malik. “This project is very innovative and breaks new ground in the field of evolutionary neurodevelopment.”

David Sanford, CEO and founder of the Hypothesis Fund, said, “Our goal is new and divergent ideas that would likely be difficult to fund in traditional operations, either because of a lack of raw data or because of the boldness of a direction or idea. It’s very basic science that Dr. Yemini is doing, but the implications The implications of this work we believe could yield valuable new knowledge and increase our understanding of neural development especially in the face of adaptive pressures, such as climate change.”

“The whole idea is that great ideas happen all the time and you don’t have to commit to giving application cycles to enable those ideas. We have to support them as they happen. That’s our goal,” Sanford said.

Yemini said the Hypothesis Fund awards recognize researchers and help them continue their research path.

“It is an immense honor and motivating to receive the support and recognition of the Hypothesis Fund, the advice and support of leading scientists such as Harmit and other scouts, and access to the wonderful community of brilliant Hypothesis Fund recipients,” Yemini said.

Yamini scholarship for 18 months. He is one of three recipients in the latest round of the awards. The Hypothesis Fund is supported by philanthropic contributions, including from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman’s Foundation, Gates Ventures, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, and the Psquared Charitable Foundation.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Eviatar Yemini honored with the 2022 Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience
Four initial grants will be sponsored by the Dan and Dianne Riccio Neuroscience Fund in 2022

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