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.


Members of the new class of Searle Scholars pursue ground-breaking research in chemistry and the biomedical sciences. Each receives an award of $300,000 in flexible funding to support his, her, or their 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’s Scientific Director appoints an Advisory Board of eminent scientists who choose the Scholars based on rigorous standards aimed at finding the most creative talent interested in pursuing an academic research career. This year, 186 applications were considered from nominations by 176 universities and research institutions. 

“Our Scientific Advisory Board has identified 15 outstanding young scientists, whose work brings new perspectives to important questions in genetics, immunology, neurobiology among other areas, and that will lead to new fields of study,” remarked Milan Mrksich, Scientific Director for the Searle Scholars Program. The topics these scientists are pursuing include:

  • How do early life environments have profound and long-lasting effects on human health?
  • How does light impact bacterial physiology and can light be used as a broad spectrum antibacterial therapeutic?
  • How does the brain alternate between its focus on a particular object in the environment and survey the full environment to be prepared for the unexpected?
  • How can antibodies that recognize novel viruses be rapidly designed from first principles?

Mrksich notes that the Scholars address challenging research questions that “lead to new insights that fundamentally change their fields, and often times lead to exciting opportunities for translation and the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics.” 

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. 

About the Searle Scholars Program 

The Searle Scholars Program supports high risk, high reward research across a broad range of scientific disciplines. Grants are $300,000 for a three-year term with $100,000 payable each year of the grant. The Searle Scholars Program is funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and administered by Kinship Foundation.

2022 class of Searle Scholars:

Amanda J. Lea   
Vanderbilt University
Environmental determinants of health: molecular mechanisms and inter-individual variation

Arkarup Banerjee
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Neural Circuits for Flexible Vocal Communication

Christina Kim     
University of California, Davis     
In vivo proteomic labeling of functionally-defined neuronal circuits

Edward C. Twomey 
The Johns Hopkins University     
How Tight Junctions Form Selective Barriers

Guangyu Robert Yang    
Massachusetts Institute of Technology   
Building and evaluating multi-system functional models of brains

Ian C. Fiebelkorn        
University of Rochester 
The Neural Basis of Cognitive Flexibility

Kara L. McKinley              
President and Fellows of Harvard College              
Regenerative strategies of the menstruating uterus

Kevin Forsberg 
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
The mysterious origins of anti-CRISPR proteins

Lindsay Case      
Massachusetts Institute of Technology   
Understanding the spatial organization of signal transduction

Meg A. Younger
Boston University
Human Odor Detection in Blood-Drinking Mosquitoes

Nicholas Wu
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Systematic identification of antibody sequence signatures for epitope prediction

Ruixuan Gao    
University of Illinois Chicago       
Multiplexed Molecular Imaging of Late-Phase Enveloped Virus Replication

Sampriti Mukherjee       
The University of Chicago            
Multiscale investigation of photo sensing in non-photosynthetic bacteria

Serena Sanulli
Stanford University         
Exploring the landscape and function of chromatin atomic-scale dynamics

Shasha Chong
California Institute of Technology            
Dark proteome-mediated transcriptional control at single-molecule resolution