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Tufts Professor Named "Top Young Innovator"

Tufts Professor Named "Top Young Innovator"Chemistry Professor Krishna Kumar was named to Technology Review’s list of the “World’s Top 100 Young Innovators” for his cutting-edge work on proteins. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.17.03] Tufts University's Krishna Kumar has been named one of the world's 100 Top Young Innovators by Technology Review, MIT's magazine covering emerging technologies on the verge of commercialization. The associate professor of chemistry joins an impressive list of people responsible for innovating everything from wireless networking to artificial organs.

"We combed through the rosters of universities, companies, national laboratories and other research and development outfits around the globe to find 100 of today's most exciting young innovators," wrote the editors of Technology Review. "[This year's honoraries] are the lab dwellers, visionaries and deal makers whose work will utterly transform our world in the years to come."

Kumar was recognized for his protein design and engineering research, particularly his work on ‘decorating' proteins with Teflon-like materials. The Tufts professor's work enables proteins to "slide up against" human cells and open a portal through the cell's membranes - which could make the research useful for a variety of medical purposes.

"Several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as two venture-capital firms, are said to be evaluating Kumar's work with an eye to using it as a way to make drugs more effective," reported the India Times.

Kumar, just 32 years old, will be honored later this month at an emerging technologies conference at MIT.

"We're pleased to see Krishna Kumar recognized as one of the world's top young innovators for his groundbreaking research on protein design," said Susan Ernst, dean of Tufts' School of Arts and Sciences.

Kumar is also the recipient of the 2003 DuPont Young Professor Grant - one of only seven faculty in the country to receive the honor this year. The Young Professor Grants are intended to encourage highly original research and to help recipients begin their academic research career.

"Kumar's research is breaking the barriers that have prevented scientists from designing proteins for important medical and chemical applications," said Jamshed Bharucha, provost and senior vice president at Tufts.

Kumar received a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2002, and is an associate member of the Cancer Center at the Tufts-New England Medical Center.

Photo courtesy Kathleen Dooher.

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