Two Mount Sinai Neuroscientists Named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows
Kanaka Rajan, PhD, and Daniel Wacker, PhD, receive early-career fellowships
Two faculty members of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai were recently named recipients of the 2019 Sloan Research Fellowships, a prestigious honor for early-career scholars whose achievements mark them as among the most promising researchers in their fields. Kanaka Rajan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Daniel Wacker, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacological Sciences, will each receive a two-year, $70,000 fellowship to further their research.
Drs. Rajan and Wacker are among 126 scientists who represent 57 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada. The fellowships, granted annually by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation since 1955, are awarded in close coordination with the scientific community. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists and winning fellows are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field.
“Drs. Rajan and Wacker are outstanding scientists who are making significant contributions early in their careers,” says Paul J. Kenny, PhD, Ward-Coleman Professor and Chair of the Arthur M. Fishberg Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "We are thrilled that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has recognized their excellence and has chosen to provide them with this prestigious honor and the flexible research support that will enable them to advance their work.”
Dr. Rajan’s innovative research uses advanced mathematical approaches and artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to discover how the brain functions in both health and disease. In the lab, she builds network models that simulate the activity of neurons in animal and human brains and writes integrative theories that explain how such activity drives behavior and cognition.
Dr. Wacker’s research is focused on a comprehensive, mechanistic understanding of important drug targets involved in human health and disease, using structural and pharmacological methods. He is particularly interested in the structure and function of serotonin receptors and transporters involved in maintaining normal brain function and will aim to design novel, target-selective compounds that help delineate the role of these proteins in mental illness and other pathologies. His lab uses pioneering technologies in structural and molecular pharmacology, including membrane protein crystallization, cryo electron microscopy, quantitative pharmacology and structure-based drug design.
“Sloan Research Fellows are the best young scientists working today,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Sloan Fellows stand out for their creativity, for their hard work, for the importance of the issues they tackle, and the energy and innovation with which they tackle them. To be a Sloan Fellow is to be in the vanguard of twenty-first century science.”
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.