The FSHD Society is proud to announce that three highly deserving individuals are each being given a Young Investigator Award for 2020. This award recognizes junior researchers who show exceptional promise and are likely to have a significant impact on the FSHD field. Meet the winners!
Angela Lek, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, Yale University
Angela Lek’s track record demonstrates that she has a strong commitment to making an impact in the field of FSHD. In addition to her publications in the field, she has received three poster awards and has been an invited speaker at several conferences. Dr. Lek has a favorable reputation within the research community, which has led to fruitful collaborations both with key opinion leaders in the field. She has been selected as session chair in the upcoming New Directions conference for the session on translational research, where she will highlight her novel translational contributions in FSHD. Over the past year, Dr. Lek has also mentored an FSHD patient who is working as a postdoc in the Lek Lab on advancing the testing of promising drugs that were discovered in Dr. Lek’s research. In addition to her scientific endeavors, Dr. Lek has contributed to furthering education and outreach within the FSHD community. She has been asked to communicate her research to the non-scientific community through talks, newsletter articles and radio interviews for the FSHD Society.
Karlien Mul, MD PhD, Neurology resident and postdoctoral fellow
Radboud University Medical Center
Karlien Mul is a highly talented, productive and networking young investigator and neurologist in training. During her PhD trajectory she managed to gain exceptional experience, clinically as well as scientifically, in FSHD. This is exemplified in her extensive list of publications with important implications for clinical trial readiness. In addition, she is internationally oriented, visited other clinical centers in the USA and is, despite her young age, a well-known name in the field. She managed to build up an important international network, has been invited as key note speaker on FSHD and is as a post-doc heavily involved in FSHD research apart from her neurology training. Currently she is a translational science researcher in FSHD, with skills in outcome measure development, genetics, and trial design– and represents the best of the best in our new generation of FSHD clinical researchers. We expect her to contribute major steps in FSHD research in the future.
Sujatha Jagannathan, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado
Suja Jagannathan completed her graduate studies at Duke University where she studied the regulation of RNA localization and translation. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jagannathan studied RNA processing and translation in FSHD. This work resulted in eight publications, four as first author. These studies included the first analysis of the inhibition of the nonsense mediated RNA decay in FSHD and the first large-scale proteomics study assessing post-translational regulation of protein synthesis in FSHD. During this time, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the FSHD Society and received the Fred Hutch Outstanding Postdoc award two years in a row. As an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, she is applying both computational biology and molecular biology to further understand RNA translation and protein stability in FSHD. The merits of her work are partly reflected in receiving the NIGMS Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award for Early Stage Investigators (R35) and in the multiple invited talks for academic and FSHD groups. As a young investigator, Dr. Jagannathan has established herself as a leader in the field of RNA and protein processing in FSHD and her work will surely continue to have a positive impact on the FSHD community.