• Press Release

Two Mount Sinai Neuroscientists Named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows

Kanaka Rajan, PhD, and Daniel Wacker, PhD, receive early-career fellowships

  • New York, NY
  • (March 01, 2019)

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

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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