Nikhil Malvankar receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

Photo of professor Nikhil Malvankar.
Nikhil Malvankar

Yale scientist Nikhil Malvankar has been named a recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award.

An assistant professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale, Malvankar is one of 55 scientists to receive the prestigious New Innovator Award in 2017. The Malvankar Lab will receive a total of $2.45million over five years to support the project “Targeting bacterial infections by imaging electrical interactions between host surface and a pathogen.

Malvakar is a faculty member of the Microbial Sciences Institute at Yale’s West Campus, where he leads an interdisciplinary team to develop and apply novel technologies to define the mechanisms by which microbes interact with and manipulate their environment.

His research has uncovered that hair-like protein filaments on bacteria called “pili” behave as electrical wires. These pili are essential for bacterial attachment and formation of bacterial communities called “biofilms” that cause 80% of infections in the human body.

With the support of the NIH New Innovator Award we will be able to develop new imaging and measurement technologies to determine the physical forces that shape host-pathogen interactions. We hope to make a major impact on our understanding of bacterial adhesion and metabolism during infections, and potentially valuable therapeutic targets,” said Malvankar.

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award is part of the Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, which was created to accelerate the pace of biomedical discoveries by supporting exceptionally creative scientists with highly innovative research.

I am delighted that Nikhil Malvankar has received this highly coveted award,” said Christine Jacobs-Wagner, director of the Yale Microbial Sciences Institute. “The Director’s New Innovator Award will enable the kind of outside-the-box approach that is crucial to pursuing new insights into bacterial survival mechanisms.”

The NIH Common Fund supports a series of exceptionally high-impact programs that cross NIH Institutes and Centers. Common Fund programs pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that require trans-NIH collaboration to succeed.

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