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HHMI Selects 46 International Predoctoral Fellows

Summary

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards nearly $5 million in research fellowships to 46 predoctoral students from 24 countries.

 

Highlights

  • HHMI established the International Student Research Fellowships Program in 2011 to support international students during their third to fifth years of graduate school in the United States. Students receive $43,000 during each year of the fellowship.

  • HHMI has invested $15.8 million in the program during the last four years, and is currently supporting a total of 186 students from 43 countries.

  • Three hundred twenty-two students submitted applications, which were reviewed by a panel of top scientists and graduate educators. 

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is awarding nearly $5 million in research fellowships to 46 predoctoral students from 24 countries. The awards will allow the students, who have demonstrated exceptional talent and innovation in research, to complete their graduate studies.

“I know that the best science requires a certain amount of risk-taking, and thanks to this award, I finally feel confident enough to push my research to the next level without the fear of failure,” said Nabiha Saklayen, the first student from Bangladesh to receive the award.

Saklayen, who is studying at Harvard University, will be developing a new cell transfection method that combines ultrafast lasers and nanostructured surfaces to create transient pores in cell membranes. “This award inspires me to reinforce my efforts to improve science education in Bangladesh in the long run, and especially enhance the role of women in science,” she said.

HHMI established the International Student Research Fellowships Program in 2011 to support international students during their third to fifth years of graduate school in the United States. Students receive $43,000 during each year of the fellowship.

This year’s awardees hail from 24 different countries, eight of which—Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Vietnam—were not represented in previous years of the program.

“The best science often arises at intersections—between traditional disciplines, among cultures, and across national borders. As these students engage in leading edge science, they are also living the international collaboration of discovery,” said David J. Asai, Senior Director in Science Education at HHMI.

The best science often arises at intersections—between traditional disciplines, among cultures, and across national borders. As these students engage in leading edge science, they are also living the international collaboration of discovery.

David J. Asai

The Institute chose to fund the third to fifth years of graduate school because, by this time, most students have chosen a graduate advisor, identified a research project, and demonstrated their potential for success in the lab. International students in U.S. graduate schools often have difficulty getting funding to support their studies. They are not eligible for federal fellowships or training grant support, or other governmental opportunities that are generally reserved for U.S. citizens. 

Jennifer Nwankwo, a fellow from Nigeria, was one of the 42 students who received the award in last year’s competition. She is studying sickle cell disease (SCD) at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University. “During my first year as an HHMI fellow, I grew considerably, both as a scientist, and as an individual. My fellowship has been a huge confidence booster,” she said.

“The achievement that I’m most proud of is developing a new knockout model of SCD. We’re in the process of characterizing phenotypic differences in these mice, with the goal of illuminating underlying mechanisms of SCD pathogenesis,” said Nwanko.

HHMI has invested $15.8 million in the program during the last four years, and is currently supporting a total of 186 students from 43 countries.

Fifty-six PhD-granting institutions were eligible to nominate graduate students for the fellowships this year. Three hundred twenty-two students submitted applications, which were reviewed by a panel of top scientists and graduate educators. Only institutions currently hosting one or more HHMI Investigators could nominate candidates.

Liem Nguyen, a new fellow from Vietnam, is conducting cancer research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “I hope that this prestigious award will encourage future Vietnamese international students to pursue biological research. If this happens, we would hopefully have a group of talented young scientists to pioneer the biological sciences field in our home country,” said Nguyen.

The International Student Research Fellowships build on HHMI’s commitment to funding international scientists. In 2012, HHMI selected 28 International Early Career Scientists to help talented individuals who have trained in the U.S. establish independent research programs in 12 countries where funding for scientific support is scarce. In collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, HHMI has also established the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV, which is dedicated to using basic science to find better treatments and diagnostics for TB and HIV.

Meet the 2014 International Student Research Fellows:

Student Institution

Advisor

Sarah Azoubel Lima
Brazil
University of California-San Diego Amy Pasquinelli
Gregor Bieri 
Switzerland
Stanford University Aaron Gitler
Ambrose Carr
Canada
Columbia University Dana Pe'er
Jaepyeong Cha 
South Korea
Johns Hopkins University Jin Kang
Xiao Chen
China
Brandeis University Michael Rosbash*
Smaranda Craciun 
Romania
Harvard University Emily Balskus
Blake Farrow 
Canada
California Institute of Technology James Heath
Yvonne Fonken 
Netherlands
University of California-Berkeley Robert Knight
Feng Gao 
China
Cornell University Alon Keinan
Souparno Ghosh 
India
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alan Jasanoff
Tianxia Guan 
China
Yale University Susan Kaech+
Christian Harman 
United Kingdom
Yale University  Richard Flavell*
Stella Hartono
Indonesia
University of California-Davis Frederic Chedin,
Ian Korf
Robert Heler 
Romania
Rockefeller University Luciano Marraffini
Aaron Hosios
Canada
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Matthew Vander Heiden
Tsung-Han Hsieh 
Taiwan
University of Massachusetts at Worcester Oliver Rando
Saman Hussain 
Pakistan
Harvard University Ethan Garner
Naoko Ichiishi 
Japan
University of Michigan Melanie Sanford
Sirawaj Itthipuripat 
Thailand
University of California-San Diego Gregory Light,
John Serences
Dong-Wook Kim 
South Korea
California Institute of Technology David Anderson*
George Korir 
Kenya
Stanford University Manu Prakash
Kamena Kostova 
Bulgaria
University of California-San Francisco Jonathan Weissman*
Sofia Landi 
Argentina
Rockefeller University Winrich Freiwald
Sungwon Lim 
South Korea
Stanford University Jennifer Cochran
Di Liu
China
University of Chicago Yossi Weizmann
Kieran Mace 
South Africa
University of California-San Francisco Hana El-Samad
Da Meng 
China
University of California-San Diego Nicholas Spitzer
Arda Mizrak 
Turkey
University of California-San Francisco David Morgan
Narendra Mukherjee 
India
Brandeis University Donald Katz
Liem Nguyen 
Vietnam
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Hao Zhu
Novalia Pishesha 
Indonesia
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Harvey Lodish,
Hidde Ploegh
Krithika Rajagopalan 
India
Columbia University Jean Gautier
Rajeev Rikhye 
Singapore
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mriganka Sur
Nae Gyune Rim 
South Korea
Boston University Joyce Wong
Carlos Rodríguez 
Ecuador
Emory University  Donna Maney
Nabiha Saklayen 
Bangladesh
Harvard University Eric Mazur
Xiaolei Shi 
China
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Ralph Deberardinis
Monika Scholz 
Germany
University of Chicago David Biron,
Aaron Dinner
Sukrit Silas 
India
Stanford University Andrew Fire
Angela Steinauer 
Switzerland
Yale University Alanna Schepartzº
Chensu Wang 
China
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Jinming Gao,
Michael White
Kirsten Wiens 
Canada
New York University Joel Ernst
Dan Wu
China
Johns Hopkins University Jiangyang Zhang
Deniz Yorukoglu 
Turkey
Massachusetts Institute  of Technology Bonnie Berger
Boxuan Zhao 
China
University of Chicago Chuan He*
Jie Zhou 
China
Brandeis University Bing Xu

* HHMI Investigator

+ Early Career Scientist

º HHMI Professor

###

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. For more information, visit www.hhmi.org.

  

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