The recipients will get $300,000 per year for five years.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized seven Indian Americans as “New Innovator Award.” The awards are given to “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects.”
The awards, which support more risky, innovative, and impactful research than traditional ones without impeding career path, will offer the recipients $300,000 (direct cost) per year for five years.
The Indian Americans who won the award this year are Ishan Barman, Ph.D.; Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, Ph.D.; Nikhil S. Malvankar, Ph.D.; Priya Rajasethupathy, M.D., Ph.D.; Neville E. Sanjana, Ph.D.; Kavitha Sarma, Ph.D.; Radhika Subramanian, Ph.D.
ALSO READ: Six Indian American researchers awarded NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards for 2015 (October 28, 2015)
In total, 55 exceptionally talented innovators won this year’s award. Here are the lndian American awardees:
Dr. Ishan Barman
Barman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University with a joint appointment in Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. He won the award for his project Spectroscopy Assisted Mechano-Chemical Phenotype Recognition Nanoscope.
Barman lab develops non-invasive approaches by combining optical spectroscopy, chemical imaging and nanoplasmonics in which structural and molecular data converge to provide integrated insight into disease mechanisms.
He graduated from Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) and then moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for his Ph.D., where he investigated transdermal blood analyte monitoring using vibrational spectroscopy in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Feld.
Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar
Gaharwar is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University in 2011 and also has postdoctoral training from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.
He won the award for the project Mineralomics: Designing Mineral Based Therapeutics to Control and Direct Cell Function.
Gaharwar’s lab focuses on understanding the cell-nanomaterials interactions in order to develop nanoengineered strategies for modulating stem cell behavior for repair and regeneration of damaged tissue.
In particular, his lab is leveraging principles from materials science, stem cell biology, additive biomanufacturing and high throughput genomics to design nanoengineered biomaterials, with wide-ranging applications in the field of regenerative medicine. His lab has developed approaches to direct stem cells differentiation by modulating the biophysical and biochemical characteristics of nanoengineered biomaterials.
Dr. Nikhil Malvankar
Malvankar is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, and a faculty member of the Microbial Sciences Institute at Yale’s West Campus. He leads an interdisciplinary team to develop novel technologies to define the mechanisms by which microbes interact with and manipulate their environment.
He was awarded for the project Targeting Bacterial Infections by Imaging Electrical Interactions Between Host Surface Pathogens.
The goal of Malvankar’s research is to engineer these interactions to control microbial pathophysiology and ecology. He completed Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Tuominen, followed by postdoctoral training in Microbiology with Dr. Derek Lovley.
Malvankar has received the Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award in 2016, Charles H. Hood Foundation Child Health Research Award in 2015 and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface in 2014.
Dr. Priya Rajasethupathy
Rajasethupathy, M.D., Ph.D., is the Jonathan M Nelson Family Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neural Dynamics & Cognition at the Rockefeller University.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and subsequently obtained both an M.D. (2013) and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience (2012) from Columbia University, under the mentorship of Eric Kandel.
Currently, at Rockefeller University, experiments in her lab are aimed at understanding brain-wide genomic and neural circuit computations that support higher order memory and cognitive processes.
She won the award for her project Bridging the Gap from Genes to Circuits to Behavior in Understanding Cognitive Dysfunction.
Dr. Neville Sanjana
Sanjana is a Core Faculty Member at the New York Genome Center, and an Assistant Professor of Biology at New York University and of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU School of Medicine.
Utilizing new technologies for large-scale DNA synthesis and gene editing, Sanjana has developed pooled screening approaches for functional genomics and applied them to gene regulation, cancer evolution and metastasis, drug resistance, cancer immunotherapy, neurodevelopmental disorders and synthetic biology.
Recent work in the Sanjana Lab is focused on creating new genome engineering tools to pinpoint functional elements in the noncoding genome and decipher their regulatory logic.
He won the award for his project In Situ Functional Genomics to Understand Transcriptional Regulation.
Sanjana was previously a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Feng Zhang’s lab at the Broad Institute and MIT. He obtained a Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT with Dr. Sebastian Seung and holds a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and a B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University. He is a recipient of the Kimmel Scholar Award, the Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award, the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, and the Paul Allen Institute for Brain Science Next Generation Leader Award.
Dr. Kavitha Sarma
Sarma joined The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia as an Assistant Professor in the Gene Expression and Regulation program in 2016. She completed her Ph.D. thesis with Danny Reinberg at Rutgers University where she studied mechanisms of eukaryotic gene expression.
Her postdoctoral training in the field of X chromosome inactivation was conducted with Jeannie Lee at Massachusetts General Hospital. As a postdoctoral fellow, she was a recipient of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. Kavitha’s laboratory currently explores RNA function in epigenetic gene regulation and in the formation of atypical chromatin structures in disease.
Sarma won the award for her project Epigenetic Regulation Through the Formation and Resolution of R Loops.
Dr. Radhika Subramanian
Radhika Subramanian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Subramanian’s lab focuses on elucidating the fundamental principles by which intracellular spatial organization on the micron-length scale is achieved by the collective activity of nanometer-sized proteins.
She won the award for her project A Versatile Platform for Reconstructing the Spatial Organization of Intracellular Signaling During Cell-Division.
Subramanian received her M.Sc. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India. She performed her doctoral research with Dr. Jeff Gelles at Brandeis University followed by postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Tarun Kapoor at the Rockefeller University. In addition to the NIH New Innovator Award, Subramanian is a Pew Biomedical Scholar and a recipient of the Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research.
(This post has been updated.)