Four American Indians received the New Innovator Award from the National Institute of Health Director’s New Innovator, a program created in 2007 to accelerate the pace of discovery in biomedical, behavioral and social sciences by supporting exceptionally creative scientists with highly innovative research.
The $ 1.5 million scholarship is awarded to early-stage investigators, defined as those within 10 years of graduating from their terminal research degree or postgraduate clinical training and who have not yet received substantial support from the NIH. The prize is awarded in the first year of a 5-year project.
“The program seeks to identify scientists with high impact ideas that may be risky or too early to do well in the traditional peer review process. The program encourages creative and original thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in any area of biomedical, behavioral or social science research relevant to the NIH mission, ”the organization noted in a press release.
The 2021 American Indian Fellows are: Swetha Murthy, Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University; Chethan Pandarinath of Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology; Vijay Ramani of the University of California, San Francisco; and Nikhil Sharma, Columbia University.
Murthy’s lab is studying how mechanically activated ion channels sense and respond to physical stimuli, and how this response governs mammalian physiology. His project is called: “A new approach to study mechanically activated ion channels”.
The former student of the University of Bangalore obtained her doctorate. in biochemistry from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 2012. She studied the triggering mechanism of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors for her doctoral research, then completed postdoctoral training at Scripps Research where she completed studied the function and physiology of mechanically activated ion channels, PIEZO.
Murthy joined the Vollum Institute as a Scientist / Assistant Professor in 2019.
Pandarinath’s research focuses on artificial intelligence to study neural computation and improve the performance and robustness of brain-machine interfaces. His project is called: “Fusing Motor Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence to Create Next-Generation Neural Prostheses”.
The Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery at Emory University and Georgia Tech is also the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience and a K12 Rehabilitation Engineering Research Career Development Fellowship.
Pandarinath received a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, physics, and science policy from North Carolina State University, followed by a doctorate. in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University, with an emphasis on information processing and neural coding in the visual system. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, where he developed high performance brain control assistive devices for people with paralysis, with the support of a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
Ramani’s lab at UCSF is developing new genomic technologies to study transcriptional regulation at the resolution of single cells and molecules. His project is called: “Single-Cell Chemical Transcriptomic Dissection of an Essential Transcription Factor Network”.
Ramani is currently a member of the Sandler Faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF, and is a new Research Assistant at the Gladstone Institute for Data Science and Biotechnology. He received his BSE in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Princeton University and a doctorate. in Genome Science from the University of Washington. After completing his doctorate. in Dr Jay Shendure’s lab, Vijay accepted a UCSF Sandler fellowship to create his own independent research group in the fall of 2018.
Sharma’s project is called: “The Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Nociception and Pain”. His lab at Columbia studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie pain.
Sharma is Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Therapeutic Pharmacology and the Department of Systems Biology. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Harvard University. Subsequently, Sharma worked as a management consultant for LEK Consulting, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.