Several HST students received honors, fellowships and awards during the 2019-2020 academic year, including Constantine Tzouanas, an HST Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD student; and Mark Aurel Nagy, an HST MD student.

The 2019-2020 academic year has been challenging, but rewarding, for students in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST), as many have received major scholarships, fellowship, and awards, in recognition of their enterprising work and studies. The Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), is HST’s home at MIT.

Here is some background on just two of the honorees: Constantine Tzouanas, an HST Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD student; and Mark Aurel Nagy, an HST MD student.

Tzouanas, who is in the lab of Alex K. Shalek, an HST faculty member, was awarded prestigious fellowships from both the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Before enrolling in HST, Tzouanas majored in bioengineering and minored in neuroscience at Rice University, and he hopes to build a career in engineering biological systems informed by the precision and resolution of single-cell genomics technologies.

Expressing gratitude for the fellowships, he added that the support from these foundations provides him with the opportunity to “pursue projects that are risky, but have potential for high-impact, transformative results.”

Tzouanas appreciates that the retreats and workshops sponsored by the Hertz Fellowship have introduced him to a vibrant new community. “It’s really an exciting group of people to have access to,” he says, enthusing that this includes collaborators, new friends and mentors, who provide “advice and guidance on everything from research directions, to career paths, to life in general.”

“It’s a really fruitful, engaging environment,” Tzouanas continues. “I’m looking forward to the Hertz community playing a key role throughout my PhD.”

Tzouanas says that one of his earliest and most important mentors is Shalek, an associate chemistry professor, MIT, the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Associate Professor, MIT, a faculty member at the MIT Institute of Medical Engineering and Science (IMES)–which is HST’s home at MIT–and Tzouanas’ principal investigator (PI). He thanks Shalek, “for the incredible support and selfless dedication to help me grow technically, professionally, and personally”.

Tzouanas says that he was drawn to the HST program because of its commitment to providing its students with a combination of both “scientific, engineering rigor (in the form of MIT coursework and research) and clinical relevance through access to Harvard Medical School.” In particular, he lauds the chance to study alongside HST’s MD students and directly serve patients in local hospital wards, in order “to understand patient care and diseases at the very holistic level needed for strong translational impact of research findings.”

“HST truly creates an energizing, interdisciplinary environment that brings together the best of Boston’s medical and engineering communities,” he says. “It’s incredibly exciting to walk into lab every day and know that you’re going to tackle problems that no one else has thought about in the same way before, collaborate with insightful lab mates, and push the boundaries of knowledge along the way.”

Tzouanas would like to pursue a career in academia and lead a research group of his own, toward the overarching goal, “of developing biological systems that harness the sophistication of nature and meet pressing needs, like replacement organs and complex disease models needed to develop improved medical treatments.”

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Nagy is a recipient of the distinguished Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Brown University, majoring in both neuroscience and physics. At Harvard, Nagy completed his neuroscience PhD in the lab of Michael Greenberg, the chair of the Department of Neurobiology, HMS, and the co-director of the Harvard Brain Science Initiative. His dissertation work employed next-generation sequencing-based assays to understand how sensory experience shapes neuronal function.

Declaring that he felt “very honored and humbled” to receive the Soros fellowship, Nagy added that he is particularly excited to experience the community that accompanies it: “I think this fellowship is known for its focus on the people behind the academic accomplishments, and I can’t wait to get to know the other fellows through the different networking events that come along with the fellowship.”

Nagy called the HST program unique, in that he finds his classmates to be “very special and like-minded…it’s really exciting to be part of a community like this.”

“I’ve made a lot of incredible connections and friendships in HST,” he says.

Nagy adds that his HST friends and classmates have been a big part of his “growth as a scientist and physician” and that he especially appreciates the faculty “and their commitment to physician scientist-oriented medical education. ”

After he completes his MD training, Nagy plans to do a residency, and he hopes to conduct research as well as practice clinical medicine, pursuing a specialty in the neurosciences. He is also busy developing a company to engineer better viral vectors for gene therapy of neurological disorders.

Tzouanas and Nagy are just two of the HST students to receive awards and honors in the past academic year; other awardees are listed below.

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2019-2020 HST STUDENT AWARDS AND HONORS

Congratulations are in order to all of the following HST students for fellowships, awards, and honors received this year. (Current degree programs indicated in parentheses.)

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital – Sam E. Lux Fellowship
    Minjee Kim (HST MD)
  • Hertz Coordinated Fellowship
    Constantine Tzouanas (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Hollis Albright Award – HMS
    Selena Li, HST MD ‘20
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity Award – HMS
    Min Young (Megan) Jang, HST MD ‘20
  • Martin Prince Scholarship for Student Innovation – HMS
    Jon Hochstein (HST MD)
  • Leon Resnick Memorial Prize – HMS
    Eran Hodis, PhD, HST MD ‘20
  • Dr. Sirgay Sanger Award – HMS
    Matthew Baum, PhD, HST MD ‘20
  • Seidman Prize for Outstanding HST Senior Medical Student Thesis – HMS
    Donna Leet, HST MD ‘20
  • James Tolbert Shipley Prize – HMS
    Clara Starkweather, PhD, HST MD ‘20
  • HST Outstanding Teaching Award-Student
    Brian Chang, HST MEMP PhD ’18 (HST MD)
  • HST Roger G. Mark Outstanding Service Award-Student
    Adam Berger (HST MD-HST MEMP PhD)
  • Collamore-Rogers Fellowship – MIT
    Sandya Subramanian (HST MEMP PhD)
  • delta v Summer Award – MIT
    Markus Horvath (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Lemelson-MIT Student “Cure It” Prize – MIT
    Shriya Srinivasan, HST MEMP PhD ‘20
  • Wellington and irene Loh Fund Fellowship – MIT
    Ang Cui (HST MEMP PhD)
  • MathWorks Engineering Fellowship – MIT, 2019
    Nicolas Meirhaeghe (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Unitec Bio Fund Fellowship – MIT
    Ellen DeGennaro (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Whitaker Health Sciences Fund Fellowship – MIT
    Nicolas Meirhaeghe (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fellowship – MIT
    Erin Rousseau (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Microsoft Research Fellowship
    Emily Alsentzer (HST MEMP PhD)
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG)
    Aditya Misra (HST MEMP PhD)
  • National Institute of Health Fellowship National Research Service Award (NRSA)
    Grissel Cervantes Jaramillo (HST MEMP PhD)
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP)
    Michelle Dion (HST MEMP PhD)
    Natalie Ferris (HST MEMP PhD)
    Morgan Janes (HST MEMP PhD)
    Kim Lamberti (HST MEMP PhD)
    Daphne Schlesinger (HST MEMP PhD)
    Amy Stoddard (HST MEMP PhD)
    Ami Thakrar (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation (Finalist)
    Mindy Bishop (HST MEMP PhD)
  • Schmidt Science Fellow
    Shriya Srinivasan, HST MEMP PhD ’20
  • Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
    Mark Nagy (HST MD-PhD)
    Jin Park  (HST MD-PhD)
    Jason Wang (HST MD-PhD)