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Meet the 2020 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.

Previous Winners:  2017  |  2018  |  2019

Amin Aalipour


Immunotherapy’s use has been limited to “liquid tumors.” Amin Aalipour wants to make it work for solid tumors, too.

Andrew Anzalone

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Andrew Anzalone was part of a key advance in how CRISPR can edit genomes: a new technique called “ prime editing.”

Rosa Barreira da Silva


Rosa Barreira da Silva’s fascination with biology began decades ago, in the town of Modivas, Portugal, population 1,800.

Rafet Basar

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Cell-based therapies offer hope to patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Rafet Basar is studying how to limit their side effects.

Walter Chen

Boston Children's Hospital / Boston Medical Center

As a scientist, Walter Chen is making it easier to study mitochondria. As a clinician, he’s taking care of children at a Boston pediatric hospital.

Kirsten Dickins

Massachusetts General Hospital

Kirsten Dickins is tapping into her experience as both a social worker and a nurse practitioner to improve care for people in need.

Pierre Elias

Columbia University

Pierre Elias took his tech background to medical school, hoping to apply his informatics knowledge to a field where it could save lives.

Ben Fulton


When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Fulton was part of a Regeneron team that raced to find a potential antibody treatment.

Jennifer Hamilton

University of California, Berkeley

Jennifer Hamilton is hunting for ways to get the genome editor CRISPR to the exact spot a researcher wants it to go.

Wouter Karthaus

Memorial Sloan Kettering

Androgen deprivation therapy attacks most prostate cancer cells. Wouter Karthaus is zeroing in on those that escape.

Anna Loveland

University of Massachusetts Medical School

As a kid, Anna Loveland peered at plants and bugs under the microscope. Now, she does the same with the ribosome.

Cameron Myhrvold

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The most famous CRISPR enzyme may be Cas9. Cameron Myhrvold has his eye on Cas13.

Basilia Nwankwo

Howard University Hospital

As an orthopedic trauma doctor, Basilia Nwankwo takes care of some of the most pressing and complex cases at Howard University Hospital.

Kelsey Priest

Oregon Health and Science University

Kelsey Priest is part of a new wave of addiction experts willing to throw out the rulebook to save lives.

Maithra Raghu

Google Brain

Maithra Raghu envisions a future where AI systems serve to enhance the inherent humanity of clinicians.

Deepshika Ramanan

Harvard Medical School

Deepshika Ramanan is tracing how traits passed on from a mother to a child can influence a child's immune system or microbiome.

Laura Riva

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

A French cartoon got Laura Riva interested in science as a child. Now, she’s part of a hunt for Covid-19 treatments.

Altaf Saadi

Massachusetts General Hospital

From immigration detention centers to the halls of a hospital, neurologist Altaf Saadi has devoted herself to improving patient care.

Mutlay Sayan

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Mutlay Sayan learned his letters at age 13 at a school in Turkey. Twenty years and a medical degree later, he’s a cancer researcher.

Mark Sendak

Duke Institute for Health Innovation

For Mark Sendak, rolling out new algorithms in the clinic means making sure they benefit everyone in the health system.

Natasha Sheybani

University of Virginia

Focused ultrasound has been used for years to image tumors. Natasha Sheybani is testing whether it could treat them, too.

Sarah Stern

Rockefeller University

Sarah Stern is peering into the brain to understand the biology underlying eating disorders.

Kristen Turner

Boundless Bio

Kristen Turner is hunting for clues on cancer inside the genetic material of tumors.

Sean Wang

Harvard Medical School

A cousin’s diagnosis set Sean Wang on a path to find new therapies for inherited forms of blindness.

Sebastien Weyn

Stoke Therapeutics

Sebastien Weyn, now a bioinformatician, got his start on a computer not much fancier than a graphing calculator.

Jun Xia

Baylor College of Medicine

Jun Xia is working to unravel the seemingly random nature of certain cases of cancer.

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.

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