"NOMIS is all about enabling outstanding talent to take on high-risk research."
- Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen, NOMIS Founder

2022 NOMIS Distinguished Scientists

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Awards (NOMIS Awards) are presented to pioneering scientists and scholars who, through their innovative, groundbreaking research, have made a significant contribution to their respective fields and who inspire the world around them. Their bold ideas and unique approaches involve interdisciplinary collaboration and apply a broad range of methods, building bridges across the boundaries of disciplines. NOMIS Awards enable these exceptional, established scientists to continue exploring unconventional and uncharted research paths, thereby opening up new research fields and collaborations.

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Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research

Thomas A. Rando is a 2022 NOMIS Awardee and is the director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA, he is a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the School of Life Sciences. He is leading the project Stem Cell Quiescence: A Microcosm of Evolutionary Survival Mechanisms.

Born in New York and raised in Maine, US, Rando earned his AB, MD and PhD degrees from Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, US). He completed his residency training in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, after which he pursued postdoctoral research at Stanford University, where he joined the faculty in 1995 in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. At Stanford, he was the founding director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, founding director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association clinic, chief of neurology at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, director of the Center for Regeneration, Repair and Restoration, and deputy director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. Rando joined the faculty at UCLA in 2021.

Research in the Rando laboratory lies at the intersection of basic stem cell biology and the biology of aging. A renowned neurologist and stem cell biologist, Rando’s research has revealed how stem cells respond to cues from their environment to modulate their ability to maintain tissues or engage in tissue repair. His laboratory is credited with pioneering work in stem cell aging that revealed how factors in blood can promote stem cell activity in young individuals and suppress it in older individuals. This work has led to novel clinical trials for age-related disorders.

Rando has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and has trained over 100 students, fellows and visiting scholars, most of whom have continued in biomedical research careers. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging, the Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award from the American Federation for Aging Research, and the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Bren Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering

Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz is a 2022 NOMIS Awardee and has been Bren Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 2019. She is also professor of stem cell biology and development at the University of Cambridge (UK). She is leading the project Opening the Black Box of Human Implantation.

Zernicka-Goetz grew up in Warsaw, Poland. She graduated from Warsaw University, receiving her PhD in developmental biology of mammals in 1994. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge before becoming a senior fellow of the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine in 1997 (Cambridge, UK). In Cambridge, she held five successive five-year senior fellowships from the Wellcome Trust and became professor in 2010. At Caltech, she was awarded several NIH grants, including the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2020. She co-authored the nonfiction book The Dance of Life: The New Science of How a Single Cell Becomes a Human Being and was named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers of 2020 by Prospect Magazine.

Zernicka-Goetz is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in Britain and a foreign member of both the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Polish Academy of Science. She is a member of multiple scientific advisory boards in the US and abroad and is the recipient of several awards for her contributions to the field of reproductive medicine. Most recently she was awarded the Edwin G. Conklin Medal from the Society of Developmental Biology.

Zernicka-Goetz is a biologist who has made crucial contributions to our understanding of early mammalian development. She uncovered that cell fate determination in the mouse embryo was biased at a much earlier stage than previously believed and identified the epigenetic and transcriptional regulatory molecules responsible. Additionally, she demonstrated that aneuploid cells that arise in both mouse and human development are subject to programmed cell death in the pluripotent lineage that makes the progeny, but not in the supportive and transient placental lineages. She developed the first in vitro culture system allowing human embryos to develop through the implantation stages to day 14; these allowed her to identify crucial signaling centers for human embryo development. Her models that reconstitute synthetic embryos from embryonic and extra-embryonic stem cells are bringing enormous insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control previously unexplored aspects of early mammalian development.