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NYU School of Medicine Scientist is Awarded Prestigious Packard Fellowship

Award Allows Mamta Tahiliani, PhD, to Pursue Novel Research Into the Relationship Between DNA Modifications and Genomic Stability

Mamta Tahiliani, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and faculty member in the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, has been named one of 16 recipients of a 2013 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. Dr. Tahiliani will receive a grant of $875,000 over five years from the program, one of the nation’s largest non-governmental fellowships, to pursue novel research into the relationship between DNA modifications and the regulation of genomic stability.

This award to Dr. Tahiliani is very meaningful for several reasons, most notably because the awardees are selected from applicants that span all sciences, from biology, to physics, to astronomy, and engineering. The Packard Foundation recognizes and rewards the very best young scientists at the cutting edge of their fields early in their careers and, by minimizing restrictions on research funding and reporting, they encourage young faculty to do bold science. Dr. Tahiliani’s accomplishment is also particularly meaningful to the Medical Center since she is the first Packard Fellowship recipient from NYU School of Medicine in the 25 year history of the award,” said Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director of the Skirball Institute. “All of us in the research community wish to congratulate Dr. Tahiliani on this well-deserved honor.

In her ongoing laboratory work, Dr. Tahiliani is focused on how chemical modifications of DNA influence and stabilize regulation of the human genome. Specifically, she is attempting to understand the mechanisms by which these modifications preserve the integrity of the genome, thus protecting against tumor development and aging.

Through her creative energy, academic rigor and sheer determination, Dr. Tahiliani is pushing the boundaries in the field of biomolecular science and medicine in a way that will ultimately improve the human condition,” said Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, senior vice president and vice dean for science, chief scientific officer, and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. “We’re proud and delighted that her groundbreaking research has been recognized by the Packard Foundation.”

Dr. Tahiliani earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her doctorate in immunology from Harvard University in 2009. In addition to the Packard Fellowship, she has been honored with the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, the Modell Award, and the 2013 New Scholar Award in Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation for her research into the connection between covalent modifications of the genome and aging.

Each year, the Packard Foundation awards fellowships to 16 of the nation’s most innovative young scientists and engineers. Now in their 25th year, the fellowships are designed to provide recipients early in their careers with the funding and freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields of study. To date, the Foundation has awarded $330 million to support 505 scientists and engineers from 52 of the nation’s leading universities. Packard Fellows have gone on to win additional honors, including the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Fields Medal, and MacArthur, Sloan, Searle and Guggenheim Fellowships.

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