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Johns Hopkins University’s Paidi Named 2018 Recipient of SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant

SLAS News (Apr. 10, 2018) — SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) has selected Santosh Paidi, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), as the recipient of the 2018 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant.

The $100,000 SLAS fellowship grant, awarded over two years, allows Paidi to continue his work in the lab of Ishan Barman, Ph.D., which employs vibrational spectroscopy and recent improvements in areas such as optics, nanotechnology and computing, to develop improved diagnostic tools that can provide rapid, robust, quantitative and molecular-specific readouts from biological specimen.

“I am interested in working at the intersection of engineering and medicine to address major health care challenges such as cancer diagnosis and therapeutics. My current training in the multidisciplinary Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University is equipping me with the knowledge of several evolving fields,” Paidi said. “This award, and continued association with SLAS community, will significantly help advance my career and allow me to contribute to the stellar legacy of SLAS.”

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Commenting on Paidi’s work, Barman said, “Santosh is a creative, energetic, young scientist who skillfully blends several cutting-edge optical approaches to investigate complex problems in oncology. The SLAS award is not only a major recognition of his accomplishments but will also propel his work into developing new tools that can address significant unmet needs in diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic response or resistance monitoring of breast cancer.”

Paidi’s research goals are two-fold:

  1. to develop and validate a sensitive, multiplexed, rapid diagnostic assay that can measure metastatic disease with high sensitivity and specificity and provide sensitive monitoring of the change in tumor burden to aid in the decision analysis for an optimal treatment strategy; and
  2. to generate an integrated platform for cell capture and multiplexed, non-perturbative measurement of the cell surface molecular expression in order to construct maps of cell surface protein glycation, which remains a poorly understood process despite its significance in tumor formation and metastasis.  

Spurred by recent implementation of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) assays for protein biomarkers detection in sera and development of single cell analysis platforms for live cell imaging, Paidi envisions that his current project will open new photonic routes for quantification of circulating cancer biomarkers as well as for high definition visualization of cell-surface glycosylation. His goal is to generate strong proof-of-concept data on which the lab can pursue exploratory clinical studies to test the assay’s efficacy in detecting metastatic disease in suitable patient cohorts.

The fellowship grant is not the first time Paidi has been recognized by SLAS. He was also a podium presenter and a participant in the SLAS2018 International Conference & Exhibition’s Ignite Theater presentations and was a finalist for the 2017 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant.

Judging criteria for the fellowship grant considers a number of factors, including quality and capability of the institution and its educational program; endorsement and commitment by the institution and faculty advisor with the student applicant; the quality and record of the specific research program; and the quality and promise of the research being proposed. A total of 21 applications from 19 different institutions were considered for the 2018 award. The SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant was founded in 2015.

Members of the 2018 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Review Panel include:

  • Susan Lunte, Ph.D., Chair, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)
  • Elliot Hui, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
  • Jörg Kutter, Ph.D., University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Dan Sipes, M.S., Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (San Diego, CA)
  • Timothy Spicer, M.Sc., The Scripps Research Institute (Jupiter, FL)

The application process for the 2019 grant award will begin in fall 2018. For more information, see SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program, contact SLAS Global Headquarters at 1.877.990.SLAS (7527) or e-mail slas@slas.org.

Interested candidates may also consider applying for the SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Grant Program. This program is aimed at North American or European degree-seeking graduate students at their home institution who are invited to conduct short-term doctoral research or participate in a mentored or independent research project with a faculty member at a different host institution. The program offers a stipend to cover the graduate student’s expenses for a visiting research stay of four weeks to a maximum of six months. See SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Grant Program for details.

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SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) is an international community of nearly 20,000 professionals and students dedicated to life sciences discovery and technology. The SLAS mission is to bring together researchers in academia, industry and government to advance life sciences discovery and technology via education, knowledge exchange and global community building. For more information, visit www.slas.org.

 

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