Archana Podury was born in Mountain View, California, to parents who emigrated from India in search of educational opportunities for their children. Shortly after, her family returned to India for five years so Archana could share the daily lives of her grandparents and deeply explore her heritage. With a childhood divided between two countries, Archana acutely felt her parents’ selflessness as she understood the home that they gave up for their children’s futures.
Watching her grandmother live with neuropathic pain shaped Archana’s desire to understand complex, yet perturbable, networks in the brain. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, she worked with Professor Jesse Goldberg to study neural circuits underlying motor learning. Her growing interest in whole-brain dynamics led her to the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Neuralink, where she discovered how brain-machine interfaces could be used to understand diffuse networks in the brain. Archana was awarded various fellowships in support of her work, including the Hunter R. Rawlings Presidential Research Scholarship and the Zuckerman Prize for Bioengineering Research.
While studying neural circuits, Archana worked at a syringe exchange in Ithaca, New York, where she witnessed firsthand the mechanics of court-based drug rehabilitation. Listening to patients’ stories deepened her conviction that science alone could not capture multiple dimensions of health and disease, which paved her path towards medicine.
Now in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, Archana is interested in combining computational and social approaches to neuropsychiatric disease. In the Boyden Lab at the MIT McGovern Brain Institute, she is developing human brain organoid models to better characterize circuit dysfunction in neurodevelopmental disorders. Concurrently, she is working in the Dhand Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to apply network science tools to understand how patients’ social environments influence their health outcomes following acute neurological injury. She hopes focusing on both neural and social networks can lend towards a more comprehensive, and compassionate, approach to health and disease.