Nicholas Wu (IGOH), an assistant professor of biochemistry, has been selected for the new class of Searle Scholars to pursue ground-breaking research in chemistry and biomedical sciences. He will receive an award of $300,000 in flexible funding to support his work over the next three years.
The Searle Scholars Program makes grants to selected universities and research centers to support the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences and chemistry who have recently been appointed as assistant professors on a tenure-track appointment. The program supports high risk, high reward research across a broad range of scientific disciplines. In 2022, 186 applications were considered from nominations by 176 universities and research institutions.
Since 1981, 662 scientists have been named Searle Scholars. Including this year, the Program has awarded more than $147 million. Eighty-five Searle Scholars have been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Twenty Scholars have been recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship, known as the “genius grant,” and two Searle Scholars have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
The Wu lab focuses on characterizing virus evolution, including both positive selection pressures, such as immune evasion and host adaptation, and negative selection pressures, including virus-host molecular interactions, from biophysical and biochemical perspectives. While their main focus has been on influenza virus, they occasionally work on other viruses such as HIV, HCV, and SARS-CoV-2. His proposal to work on the systematic identification of antibody sequence signatures for epitope prediction won him the program award.