MCP Student Siva Kumar Natarajan Awarded Mistletoe Research Fellowship

By Lynn McCain | 25 August

Siva Kumar NatarajanCongratulations to Molecular and Cellular Pathology Graduate Student Siva Kumar Natarajan on being awarded the Mistletoe Research Fellowship (MRF). Established in 2018, the Momental Foundation awards 20 MRF positions to exceptional postdoctoral fellows and advanced PhD candidates from the United States, Japan, and Singapore. Natarajan was selected as a member of the 2021-2022 cohort from a competitive field of 330 applicants. In addition to a 1-year, $10,000 unfettered fellowship grant, the MRF provides their Fellows with opportunities to collaborate with startups with a high potential for social and humanitarian impact. Natarajan will be matched along with two or three other research fellows and an experienced mid-to-late career team mentor with a frontier startup company. Together this team will work to develop a proposal that addresses a specific science or technology problem faced by the startup in advancing the development of their existing product.

MCP PhD Program Director Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska, PhD, congratulated Natarajan on this prestigious award. “This is an outstanding accomplishment and well deserved.  It is a great opportunity and will prepare Siva for his future career.”

Natarajan and Sriram Venneti.Natarajan is currently working toward a PhD in the Venneti laboratory. His thesis project is focused on childhood brain cancers and identifying gene targets for possible therapeutics, especially for ependymoma, a disease in which malignant cells form in the ependymal cells that line the ventricles and passageways of the brain and spinal cord and make cerebrospinal fluid. “I am excited about this Fellowship as it will enable me to continue my research and allow me to work with other fellows, mentors, and start-ups from around the world,” said Natarajan. “My goal is to continue to work in academic research, but I am also interested in possibly starting my own company in the future so I can translate my work as a scientist and get it closer to the patient. I am looking forward to learning from the start-up and my fellowship team.”

“I want to thank Dr. Sriram Venneti for all of his help as he guided me in preparing my application,” stated Natarjan. “Sriram has obtained support from several foundations, so he was able to help me as I prepared my statements for the application.  He made this fellowship possible.” Natarajan continued, “I also would like to thank Zaneta, Laura Labut (MCP Program Administrative Specialist), and all my colleagues in the MPC program for providing me an excellent platform and for their continuous support throughout my PhD.”

The Mistletoe Research Fellowship was created with three goals in mind:​

  1. Funding scientific research and providing professional development training for early-career academics.
  2. Helping frontier startups to succeed in advancing nascent technologies with social and humanitarian impact.
  3. Creating a bridge between the academic and entrepreneurial communities that will lead to new career opportunities, increased partnership and collaboration, and research innovation.
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