Caltech’s Viviana Gradinaru Wins Young Investigator Award From the Society for Neuroscience

Viviana Gradinaru, professor of neuroscience and biological engineering and director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, received the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience. The award, supported by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, recognizes the outstanding achievements and contributions by a young neuroscientist who has demonstrated understanding of the mammalian brain in health and disease. Dr. Gradinaru’s research focuses on deep brain stimulation procedures for treating human neurodegenerative disorders.

“Making noninvasive deep-brain modulation a reality for treating human neurodegenerative disorders is a goal I have been working on since graduate school,” says Professor Gradinaru. “We are hard at work at Caltech and in collaboration with groups around the world to enable interventional modalities that are precise and minimally invasive. For this purpose, we are engineering gene delivery vectors to target specific cell types underlying a broad spectrum of neurological disorders.”

Born to factory workers in Vaslui in northeastern Romania and raised in a farming community under a communist regime, Gradinaru developed an interest in engineering early on in life. She became interested in physics in high school and pursued undergraduate study in physics at the University of Bucharest, before transferring to Caltech and earning a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2005. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University.

In 2020 Professor Gradinaru was awarded the Outstanding New Investigator Award by the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science from the Vilcek Foundation.

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