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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Durga Thakral, 2016

MD/PhD, Yale University

Durga Thakral is the child of immigrants from India

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MD/PhD in Genetics at Yale University

Born in Illinois, Durga is the daughter of Indian immigrants. Her parents came to Chicago in pursuit of education and opportunity. Despite humble beginnings, Durga’s family worked tirelessly to provide a loving and supportive environment, nurturing the cultural value of seva, or selfless service, in the setting of a new community.

Durga attended a local public high school where her admiration for the scientific mysteries of the universe was encouraged by many dedicated teachers and mentors. As an undergraduate in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Thomas Steitz, Durga discovered a novel antibacterial compound. With support from the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation and the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, Durga earned a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale.

Durga’s work with communities with minimal healthcare resources has shown her the dire need for better access to medical care and affordable biomedical devices. She continues to find opportunities for selfless service wherever she can, sharing her enthusiasm for science with children and inspiring middle school girls to pursue careers in quantitative fields.

Durga is now an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Richard Lifton in genetics at Yale. Her clinical experiences remind her of what a joy it is to work with patients, and she hopes to take advantage of the vast and growing power of molecular medicine in her work to improve the human condition and empower others to pursue their dreams.

Education
  • MD/PhD Genetics | Yale University 2020
  • MS Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry | Yale University 2012
  • BS Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry | Yale University 2012
Awards
  • Barry M. Goldwater Foundation Scholar
  • Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation Scholar
  • Yale University Paul Sigler Memorial Prize for Excellence in Scholarship and Research in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
Publications
  • Nkansah MK, Thakral D, Shapiro EM. Magnetic poly(lactide-co-glycolide) and cellulose particles for MRI-based cell tracking. Magn Reson Med. 2011;65(6):1776-85.
  • Hakim A*, Thakral D*, Zhu DF*, Nguyen JB. Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic studies of Rhagium inquisitor antifreeze protein. Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun. 2012;68(Pt 5):547-50. *authors contributed equally
  • Hakim A, Nguyen JB, Basu K, Zhu DF, Thakral D, Davies PL, Isaacs FJ, Modis Y, Meng W. Crystal structure of an insect antifreeze protein and its implications for ice binding. J Biol Chem. 2013;288(17):12295-304.
  • Zhao S, Bellone S, Lopez S, et al. Mutational landscape of uterine and ovarian carcinosarcomas implicates histone genes in epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2016;113(43):12238-12243.
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