Ritesh Agarwal Receives 2010 NIH New Innovator Award
Ritesh Agarwal, assistant professor in the department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been awarded the 2010 NIH Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health, providing $1.5 million over five years to support his research into improving biological imaging using nanotechnology.
The awards are given by the NIH to address two important goals: stimulate highly innovative research that has the potential for significant impact, and support promising early stage investigators who propose bold new approaches that have the potential to produce a major impact on a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research.
"It is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity for us to assemble
novel nanoscale optoelectronic probes to study intracellular activity with
unprecedented resolution," states Agarwal. "A unique aspect of this award is that it does
not require any preliminary data and thus allows people like me with
limited experience in biology or medicine to expand our
expertise and to attack very challenging problems. This award will have a transformational effect on my research program at Penn."
Agarwal's project, "Optoelectronic Nanowire Probes for Investigation of Intracellular Processes," will seek to assemble nanowire devices with optical and electrical functions to probe cell and intracellular dynamics with unprecedented resolution. By combining nanowire waveguides, fluorophores, quantum dots, lasers, light emitting diodes, and photodetectors, they hope to create a new generation of biological imaging: probes that can target subcellular regions, measuring for the first time, in real time, chemical reactions, cellular signalling and cellular reactions due to complex phenomena like a locally delivered drug.
The ability to visualize in vitro intra- and inter- cellular processes in real time will aid the design of new drugs for a large number of diseases that impact public health.
"NIH is pleased to be supporting early-stage investigators from across the country who are taking considered risks in a wide range of areas in order to accelerate research," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health. "We look forward to the results of their work."
Agarwal focuses his efforts on the rational development of functional nanostructured materials for application in novel nanophotonic and electronic devices. His research in nanotechnology extends across several frontiers of science and engineering, including the rational growth of functional nanostructured materials, understanding of physical behavior at the nanoscale, and the hierarchical assembly of nanostructures into integrated nanosystems.
Agarwal joins the 81 Pioneers and 115 New Innovators selected since the start of the NIH Director and New Innovator programs in 2004 and 2007, respectively.