Dr. Vicki Chandler, Chief Science Program Officer of The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, was familiar with scientists previously funded by the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). BSF’s Carol Effrat, Deputy Director of External Affairs, and Yair Rotstein, Executive Director, presented her with an interesting concept - what if the Moore Foundation considered funding top scientists who were identified through the rigorous BSF panel system. “The Moore Foundation Science Program invests in the development of new technologies, supports the world’s top research scientists, and brings together new scientific collaborations. We often fund early-stage work or emerging fields,” said Chandler. “I was intrigued by this potential opportunity and asked the BSF to send a number of abstracts from research proposals that were highly regarded by BSF reviewers and were of potential interest to our Science Program.”
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The Science Program’s flexibility in our approaches to funding enables us to fund new, often unanticipated ideas,” shared Chandler. “We do not accept unsolicited proposals. Instead, we work collaboratively with potential grantees to develop projects that align with our programmatic goals of funding research that could lead to a step change in the field through increasing knowledge and understanding.”
Chandler continued, “The Science Program aims to break down barriers and cultivate collaborations that might not otherwise happen. Our investments are in exceptional people who pursue outstanding ideas, regardless of where they work. One potential opportunity is to support U.S.-international research collaborations because there is little funding available for such collaborations.”
The Moore Foundation made a $1 million investment over three years in a collaborative research project identified by the BSF. They funded Oren Levy, Ph.D., with The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences in Bar Ilan University, Israel and Ann Tarrant, Ph.D., Associate Scientist in Biology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts in their efforts to develop a research project using Nematostella to test the molecular underpinnings of circadian cycles.
Ann Tarrant sampling marine life
Dr. Samantha Forde, Program Officer in the Moore Foundation’s Science Program, saw the potential for the Moore Foundation to make a difference by supporting research that was distinct, yet complementary to, the work funded through BSF. The Moore Foundation-funded research provides insights into the evolution of an important regulatory pathway found in all animals. Said Forde, “We found Dr. Tarrant’s and Dr. Levy’s research proposal to develop a novel model system for understanding animal circadian signaling particularly compelling, and it fit closely with one of our current areas of interest. The original proposal also received excellent reviews from external reviewers through BSF.”
Said Professor Levy, “We seek to answer the question, ‘How does the biological clock work?’ My lab will concentrate on the “loss of function” approach to disentangle the multiple functions of essential genes that regulate the circadian clock. Professor Tarrant’s lab will study starlet sea anemones and characterize their daily cycles under a 12:12 hour light-dark cycle and under continuous darkness conditions.”
“I am very interested in understanding the role of the circadian clock in how marine organisms are cued and synchronize their behavior, physiology and metabolism with their environment such as sun light, moon phases, water temperature etc.,” explained Levy. “The staff of the BSF are motivated to promote science collaborations between Israel and the United States. I thank them and The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for the opportunity they have given me and Professor Tarrant.”
Thinking ahead, Chandler explained, “We look forward to continuing to learn more about the exciting research BSF will uncover that is in line with the Moore Foundation’s Science Program goals of funding projects that are scientifically important, that have synergies with other projects that the Science Program funds, and for which the Moore Foundation’s funding can make a measurable difference in advancing the research.”
Learn more about the The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation here.