Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

Charles E. Kaufman Foundation: 2015 Inaugural Symposium

Held Sept. 18 and 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh

The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation inaugural symposium, held on Sept. 18 and 19, 2015, brought researchers  together from the first three years of the organization’s grantmaking to present their innovative, interdisciplinary initiatives in biology, chemistry and physics.  The symposium presented a unique opportunity for researchers of various disciplines to meet, share ideas and learn of current and budding collaborations across scientific fields. 

In addition to grantees, the symposium was attended by other members of Kaufman-funded research teams, members of the Scientific Advisory Board, members of the board of directors, and staff of The Pittsburgh Foundation.  The keynote address was presented by Dr. Stephen Benkovic, Evan Pugh, professor and Eberly chair in chemistry of Penn State University, followed by short talks from the 2013 and 2014 grantees, and poster presentations from the 2015 grantees. 

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Dr. Stephen J. Benkovic
Evan Pugh Professor and Eberly Chair in Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Stephen J. Benkovic earned a bachelor of Science in Chemistry and A.B. in English Literature from Lehigh University, and a doctorate of philosophy in organic chemistry from Cornell University. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with Dr. Thomas C. Buice, and in 1965, he joined the chemistry department at the Pennsylvania State University. He became a full professor of chemistry at Penn State in 1970, and was recognized as the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry. In 1985, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Shortly thereafter, he became the holder of the Eberly Chair in Chemistry at Penn State. His work has been recognized by numerous awards and fellowships, such as the NIH Career Development Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, and the 2009 National Medal of Science, to name a few. His research focuses on the study of enzyme catalysis and he has published over 450 articles including in high impact journals, such as Nature, Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


2013/2014 New Initiative
  • Dr. Veronica Hinman, CMU, Research: to develop a sea star model for regenerative biology.
  • Dr. Christine Keating, PSU, Research: Probing the role of interparticle forces in the collective behavior of particle assemblies.
  • Dr. Sergey Frolov, UPitt, Research: Topological Quantum Wire Emulators.
  • Dr. Alison Barth, CMU, Research: Neural Circuitry of the Mammalian Neocortex.
  • Dr. Alexander Deiters, UPitt, Research: Expanding the Genetic Code of Zebrafish.
2013/2014 New Investigator
  • Dr. William Wuest, Temple, Research: The Development of Chemical Probes to Study Nucleoside Signaling in Bacterial Biofilms.
  • Dr. Michelle Dolinski, Drexel, Research: Solid Xenon Bolometers for Radiation Detection.
  • Dr. Aditya Khair, CMU, Research: Charges, Forces, and Particles in Ionic Liquids.
  • Dr. Nathan Clark, UPitt, Research: Co-evolutionary Signatures as a Novel Approach to Gene Discovery.
  • Dr. Gregory Lang, Lehigh, Research: Epistatic interactions and constraints on evolutionary outcomes in yeast experimental evolution.
  • Dr. Matt Youngman, Villanova, Research: Analysis of the role of SMK-1 in the age-dependent regulation of the FOXO transcription factory DAF-16 in Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Dr. Tzahi Cohen-Karni, CMU, Research: Investigation of Pancreatic Islet Electrical Properties by a High Density Nanodevices Array.
  • Dr. David Pekker, UPitt, Research: Protecting quantum information with disorder.


Learn more about the current scientific advisory board

Dr. Graham Hatfull (CHAIR)
Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, department of biological sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Stephen Benkovic (KEYNOTE)
Evan Pugh Professor and Eberly Chair in Chemistry, department of chemistry, Penn State University

Dr. Melissa Hines
Professor of chemistry and director, Cornell Center for Materials Research

Dr. Jeremy Levy
Professor of physics and astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Ravi K. Sheth
Professor, department of physics and astronomy, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. John L. Woolford
Professor and co-director, Center For Nucleic Acids Science And Technology, department of biology, Carnegie Mellon University