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Solving a Stubborn Medical Challenge

Published October 01, 2019

Meet Shruti Naik, PhD

Winner of the 2019 Early-Career Scientist Innovators in Science Award.
Shruti Naik, PhD

Shruti Naik, PhD
New York University

Growing up, Shruti Naik had zero interest in science. In fact, she wanted to be a stand-up comedian. But after watching a TV special on glow-in-the dark bacteria in high school and taking a microbiology class on a whim, her career pursuits took a big turn. Fast forward more than 15 years, and Shruti Naik, now with a PhD, runs her own lab at New York University's Langone Medical Center and was recognized with the 2019 Early-Career Scientist Innovators in Science Award.

Naik has focused her work on trying to understand the underlying biology of chronic, non-healing wounds. All of us are routinely subject to inflammation but when most of us get cuts, scrapes, or colds, they go away in a short time. However, for some people—particularly the elderly and those with diabetes or psoriasis—the body's ability to heal itself goes awry, leaving them with chronic, devastating wounds. Naik’s research found that epithelial stem cells can actually "learn" from prior trauma to heal wounds faster, opening up a possible new treatment pathway for those suffering from these conditions.

"I want chronic wound healing to be solved in the next ten years," says Naik. Learn more about her groundbreaking work in this video.

Nominations for the 2020 Innovators in Science Award close on November 22, 2019. Learn more about how you can nominate someone here.