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Vadim Backman
Age: 31
Assistant professor, Northwestern University
Found a way to spot colon cancer earlier than was previously possible – and well before it has spread – by measuring the changes that occur when white light interacts with tumor cells.

Selena Chan
Age: 31
Research scientist, Intel
Designs nanotechnological tools to detect viruses, bacteria, and, for the first time, single molecules of DNA in medical samples.

Rebekah Drezek
Age: 30
Assistant professor, Rice University
Develops photonic technologies that use targeted nanomaterials to detect, monitor, and treat breast and gynecologic cancers painlessly, and at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.

Ryan Egeland
Age: 29
Director and cofounder, Oxamer
Slashed the cost of producing a DNA chip from hundreds of dollars to a few dollars by combining microfluidics, computer control, and novel electrochemistry. Cofounded Oxford, England’s Oxamer with genetic-analysis pioneer Edwin M. Southern to commercialize the technology.

Michael Elowitz
Age: 34
Assistant professor, Caltech
Combines existing genes to build artificial biological pathways, or “circuits,” that operate inside cells. The goal: better understanding how cellular behavior is naturally controlled – and how it might be reprogrammed.

Tim Gardner
Age: 31
Assistant professor, Boston University
Constructs computer models of cellular pathways in order to optimize bacteria for energy production and environmental remediation. Cofounded Cellicon Biotechnologies in Boston, MA; the company uses the cellular models to improve antibiotics.

Shana Kelley
Age: 34
Assistant professor, Boston College
Builds nanoscale electrochemical and electrical sensors to detect medically relevant gene sequences and proteins. Cofounded San Diego, CA’s GeneOhm Sciences to produce molecular diagnostics based on one such technology.

Gloria Kolb
Age: 32
Founder and president, Fossa Medical
Devised a way to remove kidney stones more cost effectively and less invasively by taking advantage of the ureter’s tendency to dilate around foreign objects. Her Boston-based company has two devices on the market.

Vikram Sheel Kumar
Age: 28
Cofounder and CEO, Dimagi
Founded Dimagi in Boston to develop interactive software that motivates patients to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and AIDS. His PDA-based systems are being used in rural India and South Africa.

Jörg Lahann
Age: 33
Assistant professor, University of Michigan
Designed an electrically switchable surface coating that can alternate between attracting and repelling water. Such “smart surfaces” could coat biomedical implants for use in tissue engineering, sensing, or drug delivery.

Eric C. Leuthardt
Age: 31
Resident physician, Washington University School of Medicine
Showed that a patient could achieve real-time control of a computer via electrodes placed on the brain’s surface. Such an interface could allow paralyzed people to communicate and, eventually, control prostheses.

David Liu
Age: 31
Associate professor, Harvard University
Applies evolutionary principles to synthetic molecules by linking starting materials to DNA strands; the strands’ sequences determine which of them bind to each other, and thereby direct reactions between the starting materials.

Frank Lyko
Age: 34
Group leader, German Cancer Research Center
Aims to reprogram cancer cells to be more like normal cells by developing compounds that block the aberrant modification of DNA in cancer cells.

Lauren Meyers
Age: 31
Assistant professor, University of Texas at Austin
Helped public-health officials control epidemics of walking pneumonia and SARS with sophisticated mathematical models that predict how a disease will spread through networks of human interactions.

Ananth Natarajan
Age: 33
CEO, Infinite Biomedical Technologies
Cofounded his Baltimore, MD, firm to bridge the gap between research and patient care. One of its technologies will enable implantable cardiac devices to detect incipient heart attacks.

Vasilis Ntziachristos
Age: 34
Assistant professor, Harvard University
Facilitated noninvasive optical imaging of proteins and other molecules in the body – which could lead to ultraprecise diagnosis of cancer and other diseases – through his theories, software, and instruments.

Shayn Peirce
Age: 29
Assistant professor, University of Virginia
Models how individual cells in tissues migrate, multiply, and develop during processes such as blood vessel growth. The models should aid tissue engineering and drug development.

Sandra Waugh Ruggles
Age: 30
Cofounder and scientist, Catalyst Biosciences
Uses clever testing schemes to determine which protein- slicing enzymes make the cut as potential drugs. Her South San Francisco company is developing the protease-based treatments for cancer and inflammation.

Christoph Schaffrath
Age: 33
Business development manager, Onyx Scientific
Discovered, as a grad student, an enzyme that could enable environmentally benign production of fluorine-containing compounds such as Teflon and Prozac, which are now made via noxious chemical processes.

Monisha Scott
Age: 33
Director, Target Discovery and Validation,Inimex Pharmaceuticals
Determined how small, natural proteins boost the immune response. Inimex, in Vancouver, British Columbia, develops synthetic versions of the proteins for antibiotic-resistant infections.

Christina Smolke
Age: 29
Assistant professor,Caltech
Fine-tunes the activity of individual genes via an adaptable technology that is potentially useful in biosensors, gene therapies targeted to specific types of cells, and the development of new antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer treatments.

Kahp-Yang Suh
Age: 32
Assistant professor, Seoul National University
Came up with the first method that allows researchers to pattern proteins and cells directly onto glass or plastic surfaces or within microfluidic channels without complicated preparation. The technique is potentially a boon not only for basic research but also for the development of chemical and biological sensors.

Olga Troyanskaya
Age: 26
Assistant professor, Princeton University
Devised sophisticated and accurate computer algorithms for analyzing data generated using DNA microarrays. These algorithms allowed her to identify genes involved in a host of diseases, including lymphoma, lung cancer, and gastric cancer.

Lei Wang
Age: 31
Research fellow, University of California, San Diego
Expanded the genetic code in order to allow living cells to incorporate new, unnatural building blocks into the proteins that they make. The technique could one day allow biologists to create new proteins and even entire organisms that have enhanced or novel properties.

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Tagged: Biomedicine

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