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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.

Previous Winners:  2017  |  2018  |  2019 | 2020

Shelley Ackerman

Bolt Biotherapeutics

Some cancers evade the body’s natural detection system. Shelley Ackerman discovered a way to rejuvenate immune cells.

Sanjeethan Baksh

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

Adaptive Biotechnologies

Rachel Gittelman is digging into data to interrogate how the immune system mounts its attacks against disease.

Yogesh Goyal

University of Pennsylvania

Some tumor cells evade treatment. Yogesh Goyal developed a kind of QR code to track each one and find out how.

Rebecca Kahn

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.

Yajuan Li

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Long noncoding RNAs have many functions. Yajuan Li is harnessing them to fight an inherited genetic disease.

Stephanie Moquin

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

Viruses have long captured Stephanie Moquin’s fascination. Her research focuses on stopping them from replicating.

Novalia Pishesha

Boston Children's Hospital

Novalia Pishesha is working on cutting-edge treatments. She wants to make sure they’re accessible to everyone.

Lisa Rotenstein

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

Virginia Tech

Siddhartha Roy’s engineering work offers a new approach to engaging communities and building trust in science.

Tetsuo Shoda

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

Stanford University

Patrick Slade wants to hack how people walk to improve mobility technology.

Eric Song

Yale

Eric Song follows what excites him most in science — including new approaches to immunotherapy.

Tyler Starr

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

Harvard University

Zuri Sullivan is exploring the cells in our guts to mine new insights into how the immune system adapts.

Arnethea Sutton

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Arnethea Sutton is working to fight health disparities in the community where she was born, raised, and educated.

Sharif Tabebordbar

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.

Anupong Tangpeerachaikul

Nuvalent

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.

Matthew Townsend

Duke University Medical Center

Matthew Townsend has jumped from the basketball court to the clinic, where he puts the patient experience first.

Iñigo Urteaga

Columbia University

Algorithms hold the power to predict disease. To Iñigo Urteaga, it’s also critical that they be explainable.

Akanksha Verma

Volastra Therapeutics

Metastatic cancers pose mysteries to scientists. Akanksha Verma is trying to decode the clues.

Heather Ward

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

As a psychiatry researcher and physician, Heather Ward is taking new approaches to long-unanswered questions.

Courtney Woolsey

University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

The immune system is notoriously complex. That’s what Courtney Woolsey loves about studying it.

Mark Yarmarkovich

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.

Angela Yen

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

CRISPR can be unpredictable. Angela Yen built a computing framework to detect mistakes.

Xiang Yu

Merck

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.

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