Janelle Ayres wins Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

Janelle Ayres of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has won the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, one of the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early career scientists. Ayres is the laureate in the category of life sciences, and will be awarded $250,000 for her pioneering research.

“Janelle is one of the most original thinkers in the field of infectious disease research,” says Salk President Rusty Gage. “Her pioneering work on microbes has the potential to change human health in fundamental ways. We are elated the Blavatnik Foundation has recognized Janelle’s past accomplishments and future promise with this prestigious award.”

Spearheaded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, the Blavatnik National Awards recognize both the past accomplishments and the future promise of the most talented scientific and engineering researchers aged 42 years and younger at America’s top academic and research institutions.

Working at the intersection of immunology and microbiology, Ayres’ pioneering research on host-pathogen interactions is redefining our understanding of health. Ayres’ discovery that microbes have evolved mechanisms to promote the health of the host to support their own survival reveals a beneficial role for microbes in maintenance of host health. Promoting host “tolerance” of microbes may offer a novel therapeutic approach to treating infections that is not reliant on antibiotics.

Ayres is associate professor at the NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and the Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair at the Salk Institute. Located in La Jolla, California, Salk is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to basic research in the biological sciences — and is one of the foremost institutions of its kind in the world.