The Hartwell Foundation


2020 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Awards

Memphis, TN, April 01, 2021 - The Hartwell Foundation officially announced today the recipients of the 2020 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Awards. Each Award provides support for three years at $100,000 direct cost per year. Twelve individuals representing ten institutions received recognition as Hartwell Investigators:

  • Christopher B. Rodell, Ph.D.,,- Assistant Professor Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University for "Development of a Geometrically Tunable Blood Shunt for Heart Reconstruction Surgery."
  • Jeffrey D. Martell, Ph.D., - Assistant Professor Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison for "Safer Cancer Therapies Using Switchable Immune Cells."
  • Johannes Schöneberg, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego for "Fast 3D Time-Lapse Subcellular Imaging in Restoring Mitochondrial Dynamics as a Cure for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy."
  • Joshua C. Mell, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Microbiology & Immunology, Drexel University for "Detecting and Disrupting Biofilms in Recurrent Ear Infections."
  • Meghan A. Koch, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for "Harnessing Breastmilk Antibodies to Enhance Neonatal Growth and Long-Term Health."
  • Oleh Akchurin, MD, Ph.D., - Assistant Professor Pediatrics, Cornell University for "Immunophenotyping of Peripheral Blood Monocytes to Personalize Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease."
  • Prithvi Raj, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Immunology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for "Rapid Diagnosis of Infectious Disease Through Comprehensive Profiling of the Blood Microbiome by Metagenomic Sequencing."
  • Qingfei Jiang, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Medicine, University of California, San Diego for "Regulating Leukemia Initiating Cells in Relapsed and Refractory T Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia."
  • Roarke W. Horstmeyer, Ph.D.,- Assistant Professor Biomedical Engineering, Duke University for "Mapping Affected Brain Areas in Epilepsy by Non-Invasive Optical Detection of Cerebral Blood Flow."
  • Stavroula Sofou, Ph.D.,- Associate Professor Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University for "Curing Glioblastoma by Alpha-Particle Radionuclide Therapy."
  • Shuai Xu, MD, - Assistant Professor Dermatology, Northwestern University for "Predicting Sepsis with a Machine Learning Algorithm Enabled by Continuous Monitoring of Cardiovascular Health."
  • Yolanda M. Fortenberry, Ph.D., - Associate Professor Biology, Case Western Reserve University for "Sickle Cell Disease Curative Therapy: Targeting Hemoglobin S Polymerization with Bifunctional Nongenomic Strands of RNA."

The 2020 award-winning proposals represent early-stage, innovative and cutting-edge technology in Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, covering research areas that include Cancer, Diagnostic Imaging, Infectious Disease, Medical Diagnostics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Tissue Engineering. The Hartwell Foundation is pleased to provide financial support to these exceptional scientists who are pursuing biomedical research to advance children’s health.

Each year The Hartwell Foundation invites a limited number of institutions in the United States to hold an internal open competition to nominate candidates from their faculty who are involved in early-stage, innovative, and cutting-edge biomedical research that has not yet qualified for significant funding from outside sources and with the potential to benefit children of the United States. In the 2020 competition, 16 institutions were invited to participate. Based upon the Nominees submitted, the Foundation selected 12 researchers from ten different institutions to receive a Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award. Notably, Drexel University and UC San Diego each received two Individual Awards.

"In our 15th year supporting innovative, early-stage biomedical research with the potential to benefit children, the 2020 competition for Individual Biomedical Research Awards was once again, extremely competitive. Nominees who received an Award leveraged internal support and guidance from their participating institution, as well as the experience of previous Hartwell Investigators," said Fred Dombrose, President of The Hartwell Foundation.

While significant early-stage funding benefits the individual researcher, participating Hartwell institutions also receive recognition in the form of a Hartwell Fellowship. For each Nominee selected for an Individual Biomedical Research Award the sponsoring participating institution receives one Hartwell Fellowship that they are asked to designate to a qualified postdoctoral researcher in the early stage of their career. Each Fellowship provides support for two years at $50,000 direct cost per year to enable specialized training in biomedical research.

"The Hartwell Foundation seeks to inspire innovation and achievement by offering individual researchers an opportunity to realize their professional goals. Our approach is to be unique, selective, thorough and accountable. We provide an opportunity for those we support to make a difference and to realize their hopes and dreams," said Fred Dombrose, President of The Hartwell Foundation.

In selecting awardees, the Foundation takes into account the compelling and transformative nature of the proposed innovation, the extent to which a strategic or translational approach might accelerate the clinical application of research results to benefit children of the United States, the extent of collaboration in the proposed research, the institutional commitment to provide encouragement and technical support to the investigator, and the extent to which funding the investigator will make a difference.


2020 Hartwell Investigator Oleh Akchurin, MD, Ph.D., Cornell University

2020 Hartwell Investigator Oleh Akchurin, MD, Ph.D., Cornell University

2020 Hartwell Investigator Shuai Xu, MD, Northwestern University

2020 Hartwell Investigator Shuai Xu, MD, Northwestern University

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