Inaugural class of MIT-GSK Gertrude B. Elion Research Fellows selected

Jay Mahat from the Sharp Lab at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Benjamin Mead from the Shalek Lab at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Nicholas Struntz from the Koehler Lab at the Koch Institute, and Sarvesh Varma from the Biological Microtechnology and BioMEMS Group at the Research Laboratory of Electronics have been awarded two-year postdoctoral fellowships through the MIT-GSK Gertrude B. Elion Research Fellowship Program for Drug Discovery and Disease.

The fellowship program is a new initiative between MIT and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that aims to promote basic research while introducing young scientists to key aspects of pharmaceutical research and development. It honors Gertrude Belle Elion (1918-1999), an early leader in the field of chemotherapeutic agents who worked for many years at Burroughs Wellcome, which became Glaxo Wellcome in 1995 and GlaxoSmithKline in 2000. Although Elion never finished a PhD due to her need to work full-time, she eventually received at least 25 honorary doctorate degrees and numerous awards in recognition of her scientific achievements. In 1988, she shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discoveries of important principles for drug treatment in developing compounds to treat conditions such as leukemia, viral and bacterial infections, malaria, and gout. In 1991, she was awarded the National Medal of Science and was the first woman inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 1997, she was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award for her groundbreaking work in developing therapies for cancer and leukemia.

The Gertrude B. Elion Research Fellows are basic or applied scientists and engineers at MIT who are interested in innovative technology and/or platforms that can enable transformative advances in drug discovery. They will receive funding for salary and benefits, lab supplies, and indirect costs for two years to conduct research in the laboratory of a principal investigator at MIT, and they will have ancillary mentorship from a GSK mentor. A critical component of the program will be ongoing communication and exchange of information amongst the fellow, MIT principal investigator, and GSK mentor.

The next call for applications for the MIT-GSK Gertrude B. Elion Research Fellowship Program for Drug Discovery and Disease will occur in 2019.

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