Meet the 2021 STAT Wunderkinds
STAT set out to celebrate the unheralded heroes of science and medicine, poring over hundreds of nominations from across North America in search for the next generation of scientific superstars. We were on the hunt for the most impressive doctors and researchers on the cusp of launching their careers, but not yet fully independent.
This year, as in past years, we’ve found inspiring stories and innovative research. All are blazing new trails as they attempt to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine.
Some cancers evade the body’s natural detection system. Shelley Ackerman discovered a way to rejuvenate immune cells.
Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering
Being a physician-scientist is a balancing act. For Sanjeethan Baksh, curiosity is key in both research and practice.
Rachel Gittelman is digging into data to interrogate how the immune system mounts its attacks against disease.
University of Pennsylvania
Some tumor cells evade treatment. Yogesh Goyal developed a kind of QR code to track each one and find out how.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Early in the pandemic, Rebecca Kahn modeled Covid’s potential spread. She soon became a go-to adviser.
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Long noncoding RNAs have many functions. Yajuan Li is harnessing them to fight an inherited genetic disease.
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Viruses have long captured Stephanie Moquin’s fascination. Her research focuses on stopping them from replicating.
Boston Children's Hospital
Novalia Pishesha is working on cutting-edge treatments. She wants to make sure they’re accessible to everyone.
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Burnout is a significant issue among health workers. Lisa Rotenstein is putting a magnifying glass on the problem.
Siddhartha Roy’s engineering work offers a new approach to engaging communities and building trust in science.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Tetsuo Shoda became a doctor to find a cure for his brother’s asthma. His research digs into the drivers of certain allergic diseases.
Patrick Slade wants to hack how people walk to improve mobility technology.
Eric Song follows what excites him most in science — including new approaches to immunotherapy.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Tyler Starr is studying the evolutionary arms race between viruses and hosts — research made all the more pressing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zuri Sullivan is exploring the cells in our guts to mine new insights into how the immune system adapts.
VCU Massey Cancer Center
Arnethea Sutton is working to fight health disparities in the community where she was born, raised, and educated.
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Sharif Tabebordbar was motivated by his father’s condition to study muscular dystrophy. Now he’s discovered a promising treatment method.
His research helped discover an experimental cancer drug. Now, Anupong Tangpeerachaikul has his sights set on even broader impact.
Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako is moving the needle on health equity as a physician, researcher, and podcaster.
Duke University Medical Center
Matthew Townsend has jumped from the basketball court to the clinic, where he puts the patient experience first.
Algorithms hold the power to predict disease. To Iñigo Urteaga, it’s also critical that they be explainable.
Metastatic cancers pose mysteries to scientists. Akanksha Verma is trying to decode the clues.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
As a psychiatry researcher and physician, Heather Ward is taking new approaches to long-unanswered questions.
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
The immune system is notoriously complex. That’s what Courtney Woolsey loves about studying it.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Mark Yarmarkovich saw dazzling early data on CAR-T and wanted in. Now he’s working to make the therapy more accessible.
CRISPR can be unpredictable. Angela Yen built a computing framework to detect mistakes.
The role of artificial intelligence in medicine is rapidly evolving. Xiang Yu is tapping its insights for drug development.
The Wunderkinds were selected solely by STAT's editorial staff. The award sponsor had no input in the decision-making process and the awardees have received no financial benefit from the sponsor.