The Pew Charitable Trusts recently named 22 early-career researchers who are set to join the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Among the researchers is Indian-American Sujit Datta. Datta will work on exploring how microbial communities organize and operate in complex three-dimensional habitats.
Datta is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton University. He holds a PhD and master’s in physics from Harvard University and another master’s and bachelor’s degree in physics from Pennsylvania University.
Datta’s lab has now engineered a “porous Petri dish” in which the behaviour of mixtures of microbes can be monitored as they move through a densely packed matrix of transparent gel-like particles. A combination of methods in materials chemistry, microbial biophysics, biological imaging, and engineering will now be used to determine how the properties of their environment and the composition of the bacterial community affect microbes’ overall growth. Researchers can also determine their ability to establish infections and their susceptibility to antibiotics and other stressors. This work could end up leading to new therapies that might be able to combat potentially life-threatening infections.
The scholars will be provided with funding to investigate timely questions surrounding human health and disease over the next four years.
“Pew has a history of supporting talented researchers who are committed to understanding intricate scientific processes,” Susan K. Urahn, Pew’s president and CEO, was quoted as saying. “Our newest cohort of scholars is joining a large community of accomplished scientists who are dedicated to uncovering new solutions to significant biomedical challenges.”
“Established in 1948, The Pew Charitable Trusts is a global nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life,” Pew’s website says.
The 2021 class of scholars join over 1,000 other scientists who have received awards since 1985 from Pew. Current scholars will have the opportunity to meet every year, share ongoing research, and exchange perspectives across the health sciences field.
The 2021 scholars were chosen from as many as 198 applicants who leading academic institutions and researchers across the United States had nominated.