P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


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 and 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.

  • MD Genetics | Yale University 2020
  • PhD Genetics | Yale University 2020
  • MS Biochemistry | Yale University 2012
  • BS Molecular biophysics | Yale University 2012
  • 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
Select 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, Thakral D, 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.
  • Thakral D, Tae HS. Discovery of a Structurally Unique Small Molecule that Inhibits Protein Synthesis. Yale J Biol Med. 2017;90(1):35-43.
  • Wang J, Perry CJ, Meeth K, Thakral D, et al. UV-induced somatic mutations elicit a functional T cell response in the YUMMER1.7 Mouse Melanoma Model. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2017 (in press)
Related Articles

2016-2017 Edition: The New American

The New American features stories about Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows making an impact across sectors and across the country. Read about immigrants and children of immigrants and how they are giving back to the United States.

Read More

Slideshow: The 2016 Fellows With Our Full Page Ad In The New York Times

We asked all of the 2016 Fellows to take a photo with the New York Times full-page ad announcing the new class of Fellows. We encouraged them to take photos in an imortant place or at their university, and we also told them to have fun with it. Here...

Read More

Announcing the Paul & Daisy Soros Class of 2016

We're delighted to announce The Paul & Daisy Soros Class of 2016. The 30 new Fellows are all immigrants or the children of immigrants. They will each receive up to $90,000 in funding for the graduate program of their choice. In addition, each new...

Read More

By the Numbers: Infographics Exploring the 2016 Fellow Class

Dream Mentors. Immigration Status. Religion. Favorite Cities, Sports and Apps. Find out what the 2016 Fellows had to say!

Read More
transform="translate(188.000000, 15.000000)"