Scientist is VAI’s first Sloan Research Fellow


Dr. Juan Du Courtesy Van Andel Institute

A local health scientist was awarded $75,000 to support neuroscience research.

Van Andel Institute’s Dr. Juan Du was named to the 2020 class of Sloan Research Fellows by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Awarded annually since 1955, this year’s class includes 126 scientists across eight fields. Honorees each receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship. Du is the first VAI scientist to win a Sloan Research Fellowship.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected as a Sloan Research Fellow,” Du said. “I want to thank the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for empowering young scientists to investigate some of humanity’s most important and pressing questions.”

Fifty fellows later won the Nobel Prize, and 69 later won the National Medal of Science.

Candidates for Sloan Research Fellowships are nominated by their peers and selected by an independent panel of senior scientists based on the candidate’s achievements, creativity and potential to become a leader in their field, according to the foundation. Nearly 1,000 scientists are nominated annually.

Du’s research centers on molecular communication hubs called ion channels, which allow chemical messengers into and out of cells. Her work, which has implications for treating fever, pain and neurodegenerative disorders among others, recently earned her federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, as well as a pair of prestigious awards: the McKnight Scholar Award and the Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience, VAI said.

Du joined VAI in 2017 as an assistant professor. Since then, she and her colleagues have advanced knowledge in several areas as to how drug treatments can affect the body.

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