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NIH New Innovator Awardees Share Roots In MA

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The National Institutes of Health recently announced its annual New Innovator award recipients with Indian Americans Rajat Gupta, Mandar Deepak Muzumdar, Upasna Sharma and Vasanth Vedantham among those honored.

Gupta is a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital with a research laboratory in the Divisions of Cardiovascular Medicine and Genetics. His research is focused on identifying new treatments for vascular disease using human genetics to discover the causal biologic pathways.

As a post-doctoral fellow at the Broad Institute he studied the gene regulatory effects of non-coding genetic variation associated with vascular diseases.

Gupta graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2007) and completed Internal Medicine residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital (2010), a cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (2014), and a post-doctoral fellowship in Human Genetics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT (2016).

Muzumdar is an assistant professor in the Yale Cancer Biology Institute and the Departments of Genetics and Medicine in the School of Medicine at Yale University.

He received his A.B. in biochemical sciences from Harvard College followed by an M.D. from the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he worked with Dr. Liqun Luo developing mouse models for high-resolution genetic analysis.

He pursued clinical training in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer biology with Dr. Tyler Jacks at the Koch Institute at MIT.

As a physician-scientist, Muzumdar is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which genetic and environmental factors contribute to cancer initiation, progression, and maintenance to identify novel strategies for cancer prevention and treatment.

Leveraging genetically engineered mouse models that closely recapitulate human cancers, his group studies tumor cell and host adaptations that cooperate with gene mutations to drive early cancer progression.

Sharma is an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at U.C. Santa Cruz. She obtained her doctorate from Wesleyan University and trained as a Charles H. Hood Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Oliver Rando at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

During her postdoctoral studies, Sharma utilized genomic approaches to elucidate the mechanism of intergenerational epigenetic inheritance of paternal dietary effects. Her work revealed a role of sperm small RNAs in such inheritance and provided evidence of RNA-mediated soma-germline communication in mammals.

Her lab is utilizing a unique and powerful combination of genomic, molecular, and reproductive biology approaches to investigate the mechanistic basis of RNA-mediated soma-germline communication, its influence on sperm epigenome, and the consequences for offspring health.

Vedantham is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine and an Affiliate Investigator in the Cardiovascular Research Institute at U.C. San Francisco. He received undergraduate degrees from Yale University in physics and biochemistry, an M.D. from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program, and a doctorate from the Program in Neuroscience at Harvard University.

His dissertation research in the lab of Stephen Cannon used chemical modification and electrophysiological recording to define structure-function relationships that govern gating, pharmacology, and toxin binding in voltage-gated sodium channels.

After completing clinical training in internal medicine, cardiology, and cardiac electrophysiology, his postdoctoral work in the lab of Deepak Srivastava at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease defined deeply conserved transcriptional networks that endow specialized cardiac pacemaker cells with the ability to initiate the heart beat.

His lab focuses on the development, physiology, and evolution of heart rhythm from a multidisciplinary perspective, with a goal to develop translational therapies for arrhythmias that are informed both by bench science and by his practice as a clinical cardiac electrophysiologist.

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