The Broshy Fellowship recipients named for the 2016/2017 award season were Helena de Puig Guixe, a Mechanical Engineering PhD student working in the Gerhke Lab with Professor Lee Gehrke, and Tony Kulesa, a Biological Engineering PhD student working with Professor Paul Blainey in the Blainey Lab.

The Broshy Fellowship, named for Eran Broshy, MIT alumnus and member of the MIT Corporation and the IMES Visiting Committee, was established to support the research and education of an exceptional graduate student whose work focuses on a novel, interdisciplinary project that has a good likelihood of being translated into an innovative commercial product and/or service that positively impacts health care outcomes and cost.

Helena de Puig Guixe is focusing her PhD thesis in disease diagnostics. With Prof. Gehrke, the Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at IMES, Helena is working to develop low-cost, rapid diagnostics for tropical viral infections, in particular, Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. Efficacious, cost-effective diagnostics are needed to inform patient care and to understand the spread of these three pathogens. Helena says, “The award is currently enabling field-testing the devices in Latin America, which is a critical step in our research. I feel honored and thankful for having received the prestigious Broshy fellowship. This award boosts my confidence to realize my PhD thesis.”

As a member of the Blainey Lab in MIT’s Biological Engineering department, Tony Kulesa is working on antibiotic resistance, which he says is “an emerging problems of great importance to modern medical practice.” Furthermore, Tony says, “50% of US hospital patients receive antibiotics over the course of their stay. However, we’ve failed to discover new antibiotics to keep pace with developing resistance. Combination therapies could unlock several new strategies in this area, but is limited by the explosion of the number of combinations to test. We are building a platform for rapidly screening combinations of drugs to new antibiotic activity that gives users the power of a high throughput screening facility right on the bench top, bringing combinatorial discovery within reach.”

Tony explains that the fellowship solicits projects with the intent of translation to make a real impact on healthcare. He says, “while translation has been my goal since the start of my PhD, to be honest I was deeply encouraged to know that Eran and the selection committee believed in me. It made me believe in myself! The Broshy Fellowship has been a fantastic opportunity, and I deeply appreciate Eran’s support.”

The support of the Broshy fellowship has allowed the Blainey Lab to maintain efforts on the direct path to impacting human health, Tony asserts. “We’ve managed to scale our initial prototype 10-fold, and are now beginning partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to start deploying our technology. We’ve also been very privileged to have the support of MIT’s Deshpande Center to investigate driving our technology to the market through a startup. The support of the Broshy fellowship has been catalytic to creating these opportunities.”

This year’s fellowship provides a one-year $50,000 award to support tuition, stipend, and research costs. The Broshy Fellowship committee is currently accepting nominations for the 2017/2018 award year. Applications are due on April 21, 2017 and you can read the eligibility requirements and application instructions here:  http://imes.mit.edu/call-applications-broshy-graduate-fellowship-medical-engineering-science/.