Professor Alex Shalek of the MIT Department of Chemistry has been awarded a 2015 Searle Scholars Award. The award, $100,000 per year for three years, will support Shalek’s efforts to leverage recent advances in nanotechnology and chemical biology to develop broadly applicable platforms for manipulating and profiling many interacting single cells towards uncovering how they collectively perform systems-level behaviors. These will include methods for culturing and monitoring cells in isolation and as a controlled ensemble, performing targeted manipulations, integrating different molecular measures (e.g., RNA and protein), and examining genomic RNA profiles in many single cells in-vitro and in-situ. The Shalek Lab hopes that this work will not only provide broadly applicable experimental tools but also help transform the way in which we think about single cells, cell-cell interactions, diseased cellular states and therapeutics so as to create a new paradigm for understanding and designing systems-level cellular behaviors in multicellular organisms.”
“Each of these bold and talented young scientists has opened up novel approaches to answer fundamental questions in biology and the biomedical sciences,” said Doug Fambrough, scientific director of the program. “In addition, they have all thought deeply about how their work might address major human burdens such as cancer, autoimmunity, and autism. We are delighted to be able to give an early boost to their careers.”
Searle Scholars are selected by a scientific advisory board comprising 12 scientists distinguished for their research and leadership across a wide range of fields.
“It is a great honor to chair the Searle Scholars Advisory Board,” said Mitch Lazar. “Institutions from all over the United States put up their most promising young scientists, and the board has the difficult task of selecting the 15 winners. The advisory board comprises a world-class group of accomplished senior scientists with the breadth and depth of expertise needed to evaluate the exciting, cutting-edge applications we receive.”