NEW YORK (TIP): Indian American scientist Sangeeta Bhatia at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed artificial human microlivers for drug testing and has won a prestigious 250,000 dollars Heinz award for her work in tissue engineering and disease detection.
The award includes an unrestricted prize of 250,000 dollars. The Heinz Awards annually recognize individuals for their extraordinary contributions to arts and humanities; environment; human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy, and employment.
“This type of recognition helps to bring science into the public eye so that everyone can appreciate the dedication and innovation that is happening in laboratories all over the country,” said Ms Bhatia, the John J and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Ms Bhatia’s team has pioneered the fabrication of artificial human microlivers, which are being used by many biopharmaceutical companies to test the toxicity of drug candidates. She is also using microlivers in the lab to model malaria infection and test drugs that can eradicate malaria parasites completely – even the parasite reservoirs that remain in the liver after a patient’s symptoms subside.
Ms Bhatia is also recognized for her passion in promoting the advancement of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
While a graduate student at MIT, Ms Bhatia helped start Keys to Empowering Youth (KEYs), a program that engages middle school girls with science and engineering through hands-on activities and mentorship from MIT students.
“I’m hopeful that the visibility associated with this award can inspire young girls by showing them what a rewarding profession – and life – STEM can yield,” Ms Bhatia said.
Ms Bhatia will receive her award on May 13 at a ceremony in Pittsburgh. She will be honored along with the Heinz Award recipients in the four other categories.