Kristen Brennand, PhD, professor of psychiatry, has been named a finalist for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, the world’s largest unrestricted award for early-career scientists and engineers.
Brennand is one of 31 finalists. From this group, three laureates – in life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences – will be named on June 29. Each will receive $250,000 as the winner of the national Blavatnik awards.
The winners were chosen from a highly competitive pool of 309 applicants from 150 leading universities and scientific institutions in 38 states across the United States.
“Since the inception of the Blavatnik National Awards nine years ago, many of our finalists have made extraordinary discoveries that have led to groundbreaking innovations in their respective fields,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and President of Access Industries and Director from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, which co-sponsors the awards with the New York Academy of Sciences.
Previous winners have gone on to help develop COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostics; identify sustainable energy and battery technologies; fighting climate change through new technologies, such as next-generation photovoltaics and new sustainable materials; and finding cures for treatment-resistant diseases. Many have also received other prestigious accolades, including being elected Fellows of the National Academy of Sciences or selected as Fellows of the MacArthur Foundation.
“We are proud to honor their commitment to scientific excellence and to celebrate their achievements. We look forward to following their continued success,” said Blavatnik.
Brennand, a neuroscientist, has created an ingenious method using stem cell technology to create neurons from the skin cells of people with schizophrenia to better understand and treat the disease. By combining these bioengineered neurons, CRISPR engineering techniques and novel epigenomic analysis, she is exploring genetic and environmental risk factors for schizophrenia.
She discovered that seemingly small genetic risk factors can have a significant impact on a neuron’s activity, size, and gene regulation. His research offers opportunities to improve precision treatments as well as prevention methods for schizophrenia.
President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences Nicholas B. Dirks said, “There are many awards for lifetime achievement in science, but only a few awards honor scientists at this critical intersection. of their career. Why is this important? It is at this stage that support and recognition can make a huge difference, giving enormous visibility to their research.
“On behalf of the academy, I would also like to thank our judges and scientific advisory board – all eminent scientists from across the United States. We could not administer these awards successfully without their continued support and commitment. of the wider scientific community. he said.
Three highly respected independent juries – each representing one of the award categories – have selected these finalists and will determine the winners. Winners must be faculty-level scientific researchers, aged 42 or younger, and nominated for the competition by their university or research institute.