Geisel Researcher Receives Data-Driven Discovery Grant from Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Casey Greene, PhD, an assistant professor of genetics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, has been selected for a highly competitive award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to support his work to bring the power of big data into the biology lab. The Moore Investigator in Data-Driven Discovery Awards will provide 14 scientists from academic institutions a total of $21 million over five years to catalyze new data-driven scientific discoveries. These unrestricted awards will enable the recipients to make a profound impact on scientific research by unlocking new types of knowledge and advancing new data science methods across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

“Casey is one of our researchers at the forefront of investigating genome sequence data that hold the secrets to what makes each of us different and what predisposes us to disease,” said Duane Compton, PhD, Interim Dean of the Geisel School of Medicine. “This award will support Casey’s cutting edge work that is defining the future of biomedical research.”

The five-year $1.5 million award will support Greene’s research into developing new data mining techniques and tools to improve our understanding of living organisms. Currently, more than 1.5 million genome-wide measurements of how genes are expressed are available for researchers to download and study. With so much data available, the new challenge is to use these data to construct a data-driven portrait of biology. Traditional methods of data analysis are powerful but require researchers to frame precisely the question that they wish to answer. Greene’s lab is developing new deep learning algorithms that can automatically put these genomic data into context, answering important questions about biological processes and even identifying new questions to ask. Additionally, Greene wants to make these deep learning data discovery methods available to biologists around the world by creating robust and easy-to-use web-based tools that they can use in their own research efforts.

“This award from the Moore Foundation will help us develop algorithms that will uncover the relationships hidden in the publicly available genomic data,” said Greene, who is a member of Dartmouth’s Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, an NCI designated comprehensive cancer center. “It will also help us create new webservers that will allow any molecular biologist to mine these data for new discoveries.”

These Moore Investigator Awards are part of a $60 million, five-year Data-Driven Discovery Initiative within the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Science Program. The initiative – one of the largest privately funded data scientist programs of its kind – is committed to enabling new types of scientific breakthroughs by supporting interdisciplinary, data-driven researchers. Last year, the Moore Foundation announced an ambitious collaboration with three universities and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to create dedicated data science environments.

“Science is generating data at unprecedented volume, variety and velocity, but many areas of science don’t reward the kind of expertise needed to capitalize on this explosion of information,” said Chris Mentzel, Program Director of the Data-Driven Discovery Initiative. “We are proud to recognize these outstanding scientists, and we hope these awards will help cultivate a new type of researcher and accelerate the use of interdisciplinary, data-driven science in academia.”

By empowering data-driven investigators at universities, the Moore Foundation expects these new awards to strengthen incentives for data scientists in academia and create greater rewards for working between disciplines. The awards will support sustained collaborations among data science researchers to build on one another's work, capitalize on the best practices and tools, and create solutions that can be used more broadly by others.

“Many areas of science are currently data-rich, but discovery-poor,” said Vicki Chandler, PhD, Chief Program Officer for Science at the Moore Foundation. “The Moore Investigator Awards in Data-Driven Discovery aim to reverse that trend by enabling researchers to harness the unprecedented diversity of scientific data now available and answer new kinds of questions. We hope that other funders, public and private, will join us in supporting this transformation.”

For more information about the Moore Investigators in Data-Driven Discovery, please visit here.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

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. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Our environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system. Visit us at or follow @MooreScientific