Thank you to The Kavli Foundation for generously hosting our Members’ Meeting.
Funder Spotlight: Fireside Chat with Gary K. Michelson, MD
As a child, Dr. Gary K. Michelson always colored outside the lines. He was infinitely curious about how things worked, and uncommonly sensitive to the needs of others. Raised by his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia, he was exposed to spinal disorders at a young age; his grandmother suffered from syringomyelia, a debilitating spinal deformity. The loss of pain sensation caused by this disease is the reason his grandmother seriously burned her hand when she inadvertently rested it on a hot stove. Witnessing this was a pivotal moment in Dr. Michelson’s young life, a moment where he began formulating a plan to help people afflicted with similar infirmities. Despite his modest upbringing, Dr. Michelson worked his way through medical school and subsequently entered private practice in California as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Over the next 25 years, he became world-renowned as a surgical innovator and the most prolific inventor in medical history, with over 990 patents worldwide.
In the field of spinal surgery, where outcomes are unpredictable and recovery could be long and painful, Dr. Michelson’s revolutionary advancements in procedures, instruments, and implants consistently led to better patient outcomes. The surgical techniques and materials he developed remain the global industry standard.
In 2005, the sale of his patents to Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device company, earned Dr. Michelson a place on the Forbes 400 as a self-made billionaire. That same year, Dr. Michelson began his philanthropic work, which spans medical research, education, and animal welfare.
In 2016, Dr. Michelson signed The Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the wealthiest individuals to contribute the majority of their fortune to philanthropic causes. Learn more about Dr. Michelson’s philanthropic work at www.MichelsonPhilanthropies.org.
Today, Dr. Michelson lives in California with his wife, Alya, their three children, and their two rescue dogs. Their focus is on their philanthropy, and helping benefit people, pets, and our planet.
Panel Discussion #1: Innovative Funding Strategies for Convergence
Amy Bernard | Director, Life Sciences, The Kavli Foundation
Amy Bernard is head of strategy and programs for the nanoscience and neuroscience divisions of The Kavli Foundation. For more than 30 years, Dr. Bernard has worked at the intersection of bioscience and technology in research and philanthropy. Before joining The Kavli Foundation in 2021, she established the Office of Science and Technology at the Allen Institute. Prior to that, she held several roles contributing to the Allen Institute’s success, including leading the Research & Development and Structured Science department of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and as Product Architect for the brain-map.org portal. In her career at the bench, Dr. Bernard studied gene regulation underlying brain development at the Allen Institute and the University of Washington.
Dr. Bernard has authored over 80 publications in neuroscience, molecular genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, imaging, physiology and open science. She has served on numerous expert panels, advisory boards and review committees for organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. She holds a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Genetics from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in Natural Sciences and Mathematics from Bard College in New York State.
Adam Marblestone | CEO, Convergent Research
Adam Marblestone is the CEO of Convergent Research, which has been launching Focused Research Organizations (FROs) such as E11 bio and Cultivarium. Adam serves on the boards of several non-profits pursuing new methods of funding and organizing scientific research including Norn Group and New Science. Previously, Adam was a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellow, a Fellow with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a research scientist at Google DeepMind, Chief Strategy Officer of the brain-computer interface company Kernel, a research scientist at MIT, a PhD student in biophysics with George Church and colleagues at Harvard, and a theoretical physics student at Yale. Adam also previously helped to start companies like BioBright, and advised foundations such as the Open Philanthropy Project. Adam’s work has been recognized with a Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 Award (2018), a Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship (2010) and a Goldwater Scholarship (2008).
David Sanford | Founder, CEO, and Board Member, Hypothesis Fund
David founded the Hypothesis Fund in 2022 to support breakthrough research that increases our adaptability against systemic risks to the health of humans and the planet.
Prior to launching the Hypothesis Fund, David was Chief of Staff in the Office of Reid Hoffman, responsible for managing a broad portfolio of philanthropic, civic, business, and intellectual initiatives. He has served as a Board Observer at Change.org and on numerous nonprofit and company advisory boards.
David has pioneered community building both in the digital and physical realms. As an early employee at LinkedIn he created one of the first mechanisms for supporting philanthropic causes via social networks: LinkedIn for Good. After building early communities on the Web, David took this practice back to the physical world, opening and operating a restaurant designed to cultivate community through shared meals.
Earlier in his career, as a research assistant in the Orthopaedic Sciences Laboratory at the University of Washington, David developed a novel platform for studying bone loss, which remains a core component of the lab’s research now two decades later.
David earned his B.A. degree with Honors from Stanford University.
Caroline Montojo (moderator) | Board Member, Science Philanthropy Alliance; President, Dana Foundation
Caroline Montojo, Ph.D., is president of the Dana Foundation and a member of the Science Philanthropy Alliance’s board. Prior to joining the foundation in 2021, she was director of Life Sciences and the director of Brain Initiatives at The Kavli Foundation.
Dr. Montojo has been deeply involved in largescale neuroscience initiatives, including the U.S. BRAIN Initiative and the International Brain Initiative (IBI). With the latter, she spearheaded the development of an innovative framework, which aims to advance neuroscience through collaboration and knowledge sharing among the nationally sponsored brain initiatives around the world. She also championed The Kavli Foundation’s strategic efforts in international neuroethics through partnerships with the Global Neuroethics Summit and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She has served as an elected spokesperson for the IBI, speaking at multiple scientific conferences about both the IBI and The Kavli Foundation.
Prior to her work at The Kavli Foundation, Dr. Montojo completed postdoctoral research in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her research focused on investigating neural biomarkers for psychiatric illness using functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral approaches, for which she was awarded the Arnold Scheibel Distinguished Fellow in Neuroscience Award and the Stephen R. Mallory Schizophrenia Research Award. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Johns Hopkins University. The daughter of first-generation immigrants from the Philippines, Dr. Montojo credits her family for supporting her interest in science and its potential to make a positive impact on the world.
Panel Discussion #2: Convergence Across the Public Agencies
Erwin Gianchandani | Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, NSF
Dr. Erwin Gianchandani is the U.S. National Science Foundation’s assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, leading the newly established TIP Directorate.
Gianchandani has worked at NSF since 2012. Prior to becoming the assistant director for TIP, he served as the senior advisor for Translation, Innovation and Partnerships for over a year, where he helped develop plans for the new TIP Directorate in collaboration with colleagues at NSF, other government agencies, industry and academia.
During the previous six years, Gianchandani was the NSF deputy assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, twice serving as acting assistant director for CISE. Gianchandani’s leadership and management of CISE included the formulation and implementation of the directorate’s $1 billion annual budget, strategic and human capital planning, and oversight of day-to-day operations for a team of over 130.
Gianchandani has led the development and launch of several new NSF initiatives, including the Smart & Connected Communities program, Civic Innovation Challenge, Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research, and the National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes.
Before joining NSF in 2012, Gianchandani was the inaugural director of the Computing Community Consortium, providing leadership to the computing research community in identifying and pursuing bold, high-impact research directions such as health information technology and sustainable computing.
Gianchandani has published extensively and presented at international conferences on computational systems biology. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering, all from the University of Virginia.
In 2021, Gianchandani received the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award, awarded to members of the Federal Government’s Senior Executive Service for sustained extraordinary accomplishment. In 2018, he was awarded the Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate Award from the University of Virginia.
Lyric Jorgenson | Acting Associate Director for Science Policy and Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy, NIH
Lyric Jorgenson, PhD, is the Acting Associate Director for Science Policy and the Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy at the NIH. In this position, she provides senior leadership in the development and oversight of cross-cutting biomedical research policies and programs considered to be of high-priority to NIH and the United States Government. Prior to this role, she served in numerous roles across the agency, including Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy, and has led the development of numerous high impact science and policy initiatives such as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Dr. Jorgenson also served as the Deputy Executive Director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force in the Office of the Vice President in the Obama administration, where she directed and coordinated cancer-related activities across the Federal government and worked to leverage investments across sectors to dramatically accelerate progress in cancer prevention.
Dr. Jorgenson earned a doctorate degree from the Graduate Program for Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she conducted research in neurodevelopment with a focus on learning and memory systems. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Denison University.
Jack Kaye | Associate Director for Research, NASA Earth Science Division
Jack Kaye currently serves as associate director for research of the Earth Science Division (ESD) within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). He has been a member of the Senior Executive Service since August, 1999, managing NASA’s Earth Science Research Program. As associate director for research, Kaye is responsible for the research and data analysis programs for Earth System Science, covering the broad spectrum of scientific disciplines that constitute it.
Earlier positions in his more than 38-year career at NASA include being a space scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and manager of the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program at NASA Headquarters. In addition, Kaye has held temporary acting positions as deputy director of ESD and deputy chief scientist for Earth Science within SMD.
Kaye’s academic training is in chemistry (B.S. Adelphi University, 1976; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1982). He also held a post-doctoral research associateship at the US Naval Research Laboratory.
Kaye represents NASA in many interagency and international activities and has been an active participant in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), in which he has served for many years as NASA principal of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (from January 2009 through May, 2010 he served as the acting chair for these activities). He also serves as NASA’s representative to the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, as well as vice chair of the Expert Team on Satellite Systems and Utilization for the World Meteorological Organization. Kaye was named an honorary member of the Asia Oceania Geoscience Society in 2015. He previously completed a 6-year term as a member of the Steering Committee for the Global Climate Observing System and currently serves an ex officio member of the National Research Council’s Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability and the Chemical Sciences Roundtable, as well as a member of the Roundtable on Global Science Diplomacy.
He has received numerous NASA awards – most recently, the Distinguished Service Medal in 2022 – and he was recognized as a Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service in 2004, 2010, and 2021. He was named as a Fellow by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in 2010 and by the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2014. Kaye was elected to serve as an office of the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Science section of the AAAS (2015-2018) and co-secretary of the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for 1998-2000 and earlier served on the AGU Publications Committee. AGU has recognized him on two occasions with a Citation for Excellence in Refereeing.
Kaye has published more than 50 refereed papers, contributed to numerous reports, books, and encyclopedias, and edited the book Isotope Effects in Gas-Phase Chemistry for the American Chemical Society. In addition, he has attended the Leadership for Democratic Society program at the Federal Executive Institute and the Harvard Senior Managers in Government Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Harriet Kung | Deputy Director for Science Programs, DOE
Dr. Harriet Kung is the Deputy Director for Science Programs in the Office of Science (SC) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The SC mission is to deliver the scientific discoveries and major scientific tools that transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States. SC accomplishes its mission and advances national goals by supporting the frontiers of basic research, the world’s largest suite of major scientific user facilities, and science for energy and the environment.
As Deputy Director for Science Programs, Dr. Kung is the senior career official providing scientific and management direction and oversight for the SC research programs, including Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics. Dr. Kung also provides management direction and oversight of the Offices of Science Communications and Public Affairs, Scientific and Technical Information, Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, and Grants and Contracts Support.
Dr. Kung served as the SC Associate Director of Science for Basic Energy Sciences (BES) from June 2008 to April 2020 and as the Materials Sciences and Engineering (MSE) Division Director in BES from 2004 to 2008. During her tenure in BES, Dr. Kung led a number of strategic planning activities to define scientific research directions for science-to-technology pathways and was instrumental in the success of interagency collaborations, DOE research integration efforts, and international coordination activities. Before joining DOE in 2002 as a program manager in MSE, Dr. Kung was a technical staff member and a project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her research focused primarily on nanoscale materials and high temperature superconductivity. Dr. Kung received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University.
France Córdova (moderator) | President, Science Philanthropy Alliance
France Anne Córdova is the Science Philanthropy Alliance’s president and ex officio member of its board. She is an experienced leader in science, engineering, and education with more than three decades of experience at universities and national labs. She has served in five presidential administrations, both Democratic and Republican. She is an internationally recognized astrophysicist for her contributions in space research and instrumentation. She has served on both corporate and nonprofit boards, often assuming a leadership position.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Córdova was the fourteenth director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a presidential-appointed, Senate-confirmed executive position. NSF is an $8.5 billion independent federal agency. It is the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and STEM education.
Through her leadership at NSF, the agency grew by over $1 billion, strengthened existing partnerships while forging new ones, and launched a strategic framework defined by 10 Big Ideas—promising areas of research for targeted investment. She initiated NSF’s Convergence Accelerator to leverage external partnerships to accelerate research in areas of national importance. To broaden STEM participation from traditionally underrepresented groups, she launched NSF INCLUDES; today seven other government agencies, including NASA and NIH, have joined INCLUDES. She co-chaired with other agency heads several committees of the National Science and Technology Council for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, including committees on science, education, innovation, and Arctic research. She has spoken before the U.S. Congress and on global stages including the Global Research Council, Arctic Ministerials, and the World Economic Forum.
She is the only woman to serve as president of Purdue University, where she led the university to record levels of research funding, reputational rankings, and student retention and graduation rates. She established a College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue, as well as a Global Research Policy Institute.
Córdova is also chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside, where she was a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy. She laid the foundation for a medical school, California’s first public medical school in over 40 years. As vice chancellor for research and professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she led a campus-wide effort to fund and support convergence in blue-sky research.
Previously, Córdova served as NASA’s chief scientist, representing NASA to the larger scientific community. She was the youngest person and first woman to serve as NASA’s chief scientist and was awarded the agency’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
She has published more than 150 scientific papers. She has been awarded several honorary doctorates, including ones from Purdue, Duke, and Dartmouth Universities. She was awarded the Kennedy-Lemass Medal from Ireland, and the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins from Chile. She is a Kilby Laureate for “significant contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention and education.” Córdova received her bachelor of arts from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology.
Webb Telescope Highlights: Marcia Rieke
Marcia Rieke is a Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include infrared observations of the center of the Milky Way and of other galactic nuclei and observation of the infrared sky at as faint a level as possible to study distant galaxies. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She came to the University of Arizona in 1976 as a postdoctoral fellow and has been there ever since. She has served as the Deputy Principal Investigator on NICMOS, (the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer for the Hubble Space Telescope), the Outreach Coordinator for the Spitzer Space Telescope, and now is the Principal Investigator for the near-infrared camera (NIRCam) for the James Webb Space Telescope. She was the chair of the Electromagnetic Observations from Space Panel 1 for the 2020 decadal survey. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.