Northwestern Researchers Honored by Pew Charitable Trusts
Two biomedical scientists are recognized for advancing human healthJuly 7, 2014 | by Caitlin Tucker
- Erik C. Andersen’s research combines statistical and population genetic methods with molecular genetics to understand traits controlled by multiple genes
- Armando Hernandez-Garcia’s research aims to increase the capacity to treat a variety of human diseases
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Pew Charitable Trusts have honored two Northwestern University biomedical researchers. Erik C. Andersen has been named a 2014 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, one of 22 Pew Scholars named this year nationwide. Armando Hernandez-Garcia has been named a 2014 Pew Latin American Fellow in the Biomedical Sciences, one of only 10 nationwide.
Andersen is an assistant professor of molecular biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who works in genetics and genomics. Hernandez-Garcia will conduct postdoctoral research in bionanotechnology in the laboratory of Samuel I. Stupp.
Pew Scholars are selected for demonstrated excellence and innovation in research relevant to the advancement of human health. Each recipient receives flexible funding to investigate some of the world’s most pressing health problems. The competitive program enables early-career researchers -- whose fields of study range from genetics to neuroscience to biophysics -- to take calculated risks, expand their research and explore unanticipated leads.
Andersen’s research explores how multiple genes interacting with each other and with the environment can control biomedical and agricultural traits. His research program combines statistical and population genetic methods with molecular genetics facilitated by robotic and computational platforms. Andersen hopes to make discoveries that will allow physicians to tailor existing anti-nematode treatments to exploit the genetic weaknesses in parasites and enable researchers to identify new drugs that act broadly against multiple species.
Launched in 1985, Pew’s Scholars program supports top U.S. scientists at the assistant professor level. Scholars receive funding over four years to seed innovation at the start of their independent research careers. Andersen joins a community of researchers that includes Nobel prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and recipients of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.
In addition to the scholars program, Pew oversees the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences, which has provided young Latin American scientists with the opportunity to receive postdoctoral training in the United States since 1991.
Hernandez-Garcia, a native of Mexico, is working in Stupp’s lab to engineer a new class of “smart” molecular delivery systems that can introduce therapeutic RNAs into target cells. Combining cutting-edge techniques in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology and nanotechnology, Hernandez-Garcia will design and synthesize an innovative delivery system that would enhance the ability to target novel molecular therapies to selected cells, increasing the capacity to treat a variety of human diseases.