Shruti Naik, a postdoctoral fellow in Elaine Fuchs’s Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development has won the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation. Awarded by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the prize recognizes innovative young scientists based on proposals they submit that have the potential to drive biomedical research forward.
The national award, which goes to one postdoc and one graduate student annually, includes a $50,000 cash prize to the recipients, as well as a $5,000 donation to the recipients’ institutions to fund a seminar series.
Applicants, nominated by the deans of their institutions, submit a description of a ‘dream’ biomedical research project they would undertake if they had access to any resource or technology. Naik proposed using stem cell-based therapies to treat inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Naik received her Ph.D. in immunology via the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health graduate partnership program. There, she identified a new role for normal resident skin bacteria, called commensals, in regulating immunity. In a recent follow-up study published in Nature, she and colleagues have examined how different skin commensal species interact with their hosts’ immune systems and have worked to understand how such interactions help protect the host from harmful pathogens. Naik joined the Fuchs lab a year and a half ago as a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellow, and she is studying immune-epidermal stem cell interactions in inflammatory skin diseases and cancer.
Regeneron is a biopharmaceutical company based in Tarrytown, New York, that aims to develop medicines for diseases of high unmet medical need, including eye diseases, colorectal cancer, and a rare inflammatory condition. The prize, now in its third year, is designed to recognize excellence in biomedical science and to foster talented early-career scientists. Each institution may nominate two graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows. Ten finalists, selected by Regeneron scientists, receive cash prizes and are invited to tour the company’s facilities and meet with its staff. Last year, another postdoc in Fuchs’s lab, Daniel Schramek, won the postdoc award.