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As a high school sophomore in Alexandria, Virginia, Kritika Singh, E’20, bioengineering, had an experience that changed the course of her life. A student at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Singh applied for and received a summer internship in Boston, where she worked for Acetylon Pharmaceuticals.
“At the age of sixteen, I was observing hands-on discovery work for a new drugs and writing a grant proposal for the National Institutes of Health,” says Singh. “It was an exciting experience, and I realized that I felt very much at home in the research lab.”
“While writing the background for the proposal, I was shocked by the fact that malaria is one of the oldest and deadliest diseases in human history and that it still kills a child every 60 to 90 seconds,” Singh continues. “Many deaths are caused by a lack of awareness about how to defeat malaria. I realized then that I wanted to devote my life to biomedical research and outreach that could help eliminate malaria and other diseases.”
Back home in Alexandria, Singh started a nonprofit organization called Malaria Free World that is still going strong today. Singh has attended international conferences on malaria research, created a global network of young ambassadors, and conducted an educational tour of India that spread awareness of malaria prevention techniques to more than 15,000 high school students. In 2015, she was honored at the FOX Teen Choice Awards (see her at the 4:16 video mark) for her achievements in malaria education.
When it was time to choose a university, Singh notes that Northeastern was an obvious choice. “I loved the option of doing directed research, which Northeastern offers for students like me, who want to spend as much time as possible working on targeted, uninterrupted investigations,” states Singh. “In comparing schools, I realized that Northeastern would enable me to custom-tailor my education to my own interests and goals. I was also very excited to join the University Scholars community.” As a University Scholar, representing the top 1 percent of incoming freshmen, Singh holds a full-tuition scholarship at Northeastern.
Singh has also previously researched at the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Today, as a second-year student, Singh works as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where she studies gene modifications that may prevent the development of diseases. Through her work at MGH, Singh also partners with researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health on discovery research for anti-malaria drugs.
Singh’s post-graduation goal is to become a physician scientist. “I want to connect the research bench to the patient’s bedside,” explains Singh. “While I enjoy working in the lab and making discoveries, I also want to interact with people and see firsthand the real-world benefits of my work.”
Thermo Fisher Scientific, a worldwide distributor of scientific supplies and equipment, recently awarded Singh the Grand Prize in the Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship competition. This award, worth $10,000, recognizes the innovative way in which Singh is using antibodies in her epigenetic research at MGH.
“No matter where my career path takes me, I will never forget that moment I learned about the devastating effects of malaria around the world and the moment I realized I love research,” says Singh. “Working to eradicate malaria and other diseases is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. My goal is to make my science truly count for patients and to make a difference through innovation.”