Kwanghun Chung, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, has been awarded a 2014 Searle Scholarship.
The Searle Scholars Program offers grants to support the independent research of outstanding young scientists who have recently been appointed as tenure-track assistant professors. The program was established in 1980 and funded from the estates of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Searle. Searle was the grandson of the founder of G.D. Searle & Company, a life-sciences firm, and it was his wish that certain funds be allocated to support “research in medicine, chemistry, and the biological sciences.”
Chung joined the MIT faculty in September 2013. His research group is devoted to developing and applying novel technologies for integrative and comprehensive understanding of large-scale, complex biological systems. They develop a host of methods that enable rapid extraction of system-wide structural, molecular, and genomic information from intact tissues. Chung combines these technologies with physiological and behavioral approaches to study function and dysfunction of mammalian brain, as well as other organs. Chung’s mission is to empower the scientific community by openly sharing the research outcome and offering training courses to broadly and rapidly disseminate the technologies.
Chung received his bachelor’s degree in chemical and biological engineering at Seoul National University in 2005. He then earned his PhD in 2009 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After completing collaborations stemming from his PhD work, he joined the Karl Deisseroth Lab at Stanford University for postdoc training in 2010. In his time in the that lab, he invented a novel technology called CLARITY, which enables system-wide structural and molecular analyses of large-scale, intact biological samples, including rodent brains and human clinical samples.
The selection of Searle Scholars was based on recommendations made by an advisory board of scientists who are distinguished for their research and leadership. In selecting the scholars, the board looked for scientists who have already demonstrated innovative research with the potential for making significant contributions to biological research over an extended period of time.
Each year, 15 new individuals are named Searle Scholars. Grants are $300,000 for a three-year term.