With funding from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation,Dr.Michael Palladino, left, and Dr. Elias Aizenman are collaborating to study how gene reprogrammingmight onedaytreat neuro- degenerativediseases. 54 CharlesE.KaufmanFoundation ABIGLIFTFROM TINYWINGS AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F P I T T S B U R G H SchoolofMedicine, researchersDr.MichaelPalladinoandDr.EliasAizenmanwork acrossthehallfromoneanother.Butoncetheyentertheir respectivelabs,it’sasiftheyenterdifferentworlds. Palladinoisknownas“theflyguy”forthefruitflieshe usesinhisbiochemicalresearch,whileAizenman,aneural cellbiologist,usesmiceinhisworkoncomplexneurological diseases.Differentresearch,differentsubjects. ThatchangedinFebruary2016,whenAizenmanwasready to testapotentialtreatmentmethodforarangeofdiseases — Parkinson’s,Alzheimer’s,Huntingdon’sandamyotrophic lateralsclerosis,alsoknownasLouGehrig’s.Thenewconcept usesa“silentgene”programmedtorecognizethereleaseof zinc,an early-stage indicator of cell death. Before testing the concept onmice,Aizenman,professorofneurobiology, wantedtoexperimentonfruitflies,whichhaveamuchshorter lifecycle,soheventuredacrossthehall. “Let’sdoit,”saidPalladino. With a 2016 New Initiative Award grant of $300,000 from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, a supporting organization ofThe Pittsburgh Foundation, the two Pitt scientistsaremovingforward.Kaufman,arespectedchemical engineer, left $50 million to the Foundation, $40 million of which is dedicated to funding basic science research and interdisciplinary projects. Since 2013, the Foundation has awarded43Kaufmangrantstotaling$9.1 million.Palladinoand AizenmandiscussedtheimportanceoftheKaufmangrantto theirworkandwhyaflyistheperfectresearchspecimen.