Whitehead scientist named one of the world's top young innovators

August 25, 2010

Tags: Jaenisch LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Whitehead Institute postdoctoral fellow Yaqub (Jacob) Hanna has been recognized as a 2010 Young Innovator by MIT’s Technology Review magazine.

“Each year, Technology Review selects 35 innovators under the age of 35 who we believe are transforming technology. Discovering these amazing young men and women is one of the highlights of the year for us,” says Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review. “We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued advancement of technology in their respective fields.”

This year's honorees, known collectively as the TR35, were chosen by a panel of experts (technologists, inventors, entrepreneurs) from more than 300 applicants. The award seeks to recognize “individuals whose superb technical work holds great promise to shape the next decades.” Hanna and the other recipients will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review and honored at an awards reception in September.

"I’m excited that our work has been recognized,” says Hanna, who is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch. “And it’s an honor to be in the company of such great, creative people.”

Hanna earned the award for his cutting-edge research on induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These cells are made by reprogramming adult cells into an embryonic stem-cell-like state. Because iPS cells can be turned into almost any cell type in the body, they are thought to hold extraordinary promise for use in regenerative medicine. Hanna’s experiments have pushed the boundaries of this field. For example, he was the first person to use iPS cells to successfully treat an animal model of sickle-cell anemia.

“I think that Jacob’s work is fundamentally important for our understanding of iPS cells and their applications,” says Jaenisch. “And he has really followed a number of different approaches to get to point. He’s not intimidated by technical obstacles, but rather these stimulate him to solve them.”

Hanna plans to continue his research in his own lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, next spring.

Whitehead Institute boasts several other members of past TR35 lists, including Whitehead Fellow Thijn Brummelkamp (2005), former graduate student and Jaenisch lab postdoctoral researcher Kevin Eggan (2005), Bruce Lahn, a former graduate student in the lab of Whitehead Member David Page (1999), and current Whitehead Member and former Whitehead Fellow David Sabatini (2002).

Yaqub (Jacob) Hanna

TR35 2010 winner Yaqub (Jacob) Hanna

Photo: Whitehead Institute/Ceal Capistrano

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