Paola Arlotta receives FASEB Excellence in Science Award

Credit: Sarah Bastille

3 min read

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) today awarded Paola Arlotta, the Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, with its Excellence in Science Mid-career Investigator Award.

An eminent scientist who focuses on understanding the molecular laws that govern the development of the cerebral cortex, she is a pioneer in the field of human brain organoids, avatars of the human brain that enable investigation of human brain development and neurodevelopmental disease.

Arlotta serves in multiple roles in addition to her professorship: she is the chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; an institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and an associate member of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute, among others.

“Being a scientist is not always easy, it requires perseverance, inspiration, and endless passion for what we do. My rooted belief that science can benefit society, the sheer joy of seeing my trainees succeed, and the support and generosity of my colleagues are the forces behind my journey in science. I am extremely grateful to Professor Valentina Greco for her nomination, and to the FASEB community for honoring me with this prestigious award. Thank you for recognizing our work and for fueling my passion for research,” says Arlotta. “I would like to dedicate this award to my husband and kids, who have always been there to inspire me as a woman in science,” she adds.

For more than 30 years, FASEB’s Excellence in Science Awards have highlighted outstanding achievements by women in biological science. The award is bestowed to female scientists demonstrating not only excellence and innovation in their research fields, but exemplary leadership and mentorship as well.

Recognition Beyond the Lab

Arlotta has an impeccable track record of discovery in the complexities of the brain, as well as mentorship and public engagement. “She is a caring, dedicated mentor who has never failed to put the growth and success of her trainees before her own achievements,” says Valentina Greco, Carolyn Walch Slayman Professor at Yale University, who nominated her for the award.

She has been recognized by several teaching awards for excellence in the classroom and has taken on a prominent societal role, helping to develop new channels for science communication to society to raise awareness of the bioethical implications of the work on fetal human tissue and human organoids.

Arlotta is an active member of the Society for Developmental Biology, a FASEB member society. She has also been part of countless outreach activities and has opened her own laboratory to students from historically excluded backgrounds because, in her own words, “We have a responsibility to act, not just ponder. The reward for me is seeing how many students become inspired to stay in science once they get a small taste of how amazing this journey can be.”