2017 Scientist of the Year
Cori Bargmann Named
The president of science for the groundbreaking
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has been named
R&D Magazine’s 2017 Scientist of the Year for
her commitment to the future of human health.
Have you ever stopped to wonder exactly how it is that you can smell popcorn a mile away and instantly identify it? It is a split-second combination of a specific olfactory receptor in your nose smelling
the buttered popcorn chemical, called diacetyl, which
causes the nervous system to activate a cell that travels a
pre-determined pathway directly to your brain.
In the early 1990s, we didn’t know this was the case.
In fact, we didn’t even understand the molecular underpinnings of most of the human senses. That is, until neuroscientist Cornelia “Cori” Bargmann, Ph.D., mapped out
the pre-determined pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans
as one of her first big breakthroughs in neurobiology.
Nowadays, Bargmann is the president of science at
the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a brand-new philanthropic organization that brings together world-class
scientists from all disciplines, with the goal to provide scientists with the tools they need to make this
world a better place.
You don’t become the president of a $3 billion
initiative overnight. It takes untold hours of lab
work, countless literature reviews, creative
ambition and an unwavering imagination.
All about the brain
Bargmann first understood she was
destined to become a scientist in high
school when she realized science
was the one subject she could not
only learn, but also physically master.
“With your own hands, your own
eyes, you could discover something
that had never been seen before,”
Bargmann exclusively told R&D Magazine. “As soon as I knew that, I was