Scripps Research Translational Institute, Credit: Scripps Research

Four Scripps Research scientists have been awarded grants for translational science research projects through the Scripps Research Translational Institute’s Pilot Study Award Program. The program supports scientists who strive to conduct transformative research with the potential to accelerate medical breakthroughs.

Translational science is the process of turning observations in the laboratory into interventions, including new medicines, diagnostics or even behavioral changes, that directly improve the health of individuals and communities.

The following four awardees all received $50,000 to complete their one-year research projects.

  • Malina Anna Bakowski, PhD, is an associate director at the Calibr-Skaggs Institute for Innovative Medicine at Scripps Research. Working together with postdoctoral associate Nubia Carolina Manchola Varon, Bakowski’s pilot study project aims to narrow the search for potential therapies for Chagas disease, which is caused by a protozoan parasite and impacts 6 to 7 million people globally. She aims to identify promising small molecules based on key parameters that can easily be measured in the lab.

  • Karthik Gangavarapu, PhD, is an institute investigator in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, where he develops computational tools for the analysis of genomic sequencing data related to viral outbreaks. His project will employ advanced statistical methods and artificial intelligence to track and predict new SARS-CoV-2 variants from wastewater data, enhancing early detection and public health responses.
  • Salvatore Loguercio, PhD, a staff scientist in the laboratory of Ali Torkamani, PhD, develops machine learning and generative AI methods to understand the genetic risks of human diseases and to identify personalized interventions. His pilot study project focuses on the development of a meta-prediction framework for understanding individual disease risk. The framework integrates predictions from numerous contributing risk factors—such as clinical, genetic and lifestyle data—with diagnoses at baseline to predict future disease risk.
  • Jyothi Purushotham, PhD, a postdoctoral associate and clinical scholar in the laboratory of Kristian Andersen, PhD, focuses on understanding the human immune response to viral infections. Her project will develop methods to concentrate and profile antibodies in wastewater, enabling real-time monitoring of population immunity to infectious threats such as common respiratory viruses and enteric viruses.

The awards are funded through the Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at the National Institutes of Health, a nationwide consortium of biomedical research institutes and universities working together to advance translational science. The Scripps Research Translational Institute has been a member of the CTSA Program since 2008.