Postdoctoral scholar Tulika Singh receives prestigious Hanna Gray Fellowship

Fellowships offered to 25 early career scientists

Today, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced the selection of the 2023 Hanna Gray Fellows, a cohort of 25 early career scientists—including Dr. Tulika Singh, a UC Berkeley School of Public Health postdoctoral scholar in the Harris Research Program, run by Dr. Eva Harris—who represent a promising future for biomedical science. These outstanding researchers will continue their postdoctoral training at 18 institutions across the United States.

The HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program provides each fellow with up to $1.5 million in support for up to eight years spanning postdoctoral training through transition to an early career faculty position. The program is designed to give fellows the freedom to explore new scientific territory and follow their curiosity, while seeking answers to challenging scientific questions. Members of the newest cohort include researchers who are working to design new therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease, advance understanding of the aging process, and bring to light how climate change affects animal-microbial interactions.

“We are thrilled to welcome these exceptional scientists into the HHMI community,” said Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer Leslie Vosshall. “Each of this year’s Hanna Gray Fellows has the expertise, talent, and ingenuity to make groundbreaking discoveries in the life sciences while developing and inspiring generations of scientists over their career.”

Over our lifetimes we experience multiple viral infections. Some infections are similar to ones we have fought earlier. In the best-case scenario of secondary infection, our pre-existing immunity will jumpstart and neutralize the new, but related, virus. Dr. Singh wants to uncover the immune pathways that remember and reactivate such broadly neutralizing antibodies. She is pioneering tools to measure the parts of our immune response that encompass diversity towards multiple viruses. Singh hopes this work will improve vaccine design to protect the world from emerging viruses.

“The goal of the Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program is to recruit and retain individuals from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences, including those individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Dr. Singh. “While HHMI has historically funded only MDs and PhDs with a focus on basic science, I am one of the first with both a PhD and an MPH and goals of making science serve society to improve public health. During the pandemic, I advocated with non-profits for global COVID-19 vaccine access, and global health equity. So I have roots in both biomedical science and community organizing/public health advocacy.”

“There is not a more deserving and perfect postdoctoral scholar than Dr. Singh to receive the extremely prestigious and exciting HHMI Hannah Gray award,” said Dr. Harris.” Dr. Singh is a unique blend of a remarkably accomplished, intelligent, and innovative young scientist, who is also committed to societal equity and global public health. She has a brilliant future ahead of her, and I am thrilled she is an integral part of our team both here at UC Berkeley and in Nicaragua, as she develops her exceptional path forward.”

To date, HHMI has committed more than $180 million to the Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program, which currently includes 109 fellows (87 postdocs and 22 early career faculty). That investment continues expanding, with appointments of up to 25 fellows each year as part of HHMI’s broader commitment to advancing inclusion across key career stages in academic science.

The new cohort will join a close-knit community of Hanna Gray Fellows who participate in professional development, mentorship, and networking with their peers and the broader HHMI community of scientists.

In keeping with HHMI’s “people, not projects” philosophy, fellows have freedom to change their research focus in pursuit of their evolving interests at any point through the duration of the award.

The program is named for Hanna Holborn Gray, former chair of the HHMI board of trustees and former president of the University of Chicago. Under Gray’s leadership, HHMI developed initiatives that foster inclusion in science education. HHMI continues to carry forward this work on college and university campuses across the United States.

The next open competition for the Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program will launch in early 2024. For more details about the program or to receive updates about the next competition launch, visit hhmi.org/hanna-gray.


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