Marissa Scavuzzo Receives Coveted Hannah H. Gray Fellowship Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute


We are pleased to announce that Marissa Scavuzzo, PhD, a 2019 NYSCFDruckenmiller Fellow, is a recipient of the Hanna H. Gray fellowship award. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently announced the selection of 21 exceptional early-career scientists as 2020 Hanna Gray Fellows, a fellowship that aims to increase diversity in science and allows fellows the freedom to explore novel scientific territory and embrace their curiosity.

Dr. Scavuzzo studies the network of nervous system cells inside the gastrointestinal tract, often referred to as “the second brain.” Like something out of a science fiction movie, she uses stem cells to create lab-grown models of human intestines to map glial cells’ diversity. Glia cells, the support cells of the brain, aid in regulating and protecting neurons. However, their role in regulating neurons in the gut is not well understood. Dr. Scavuzzo aims to understand how these glia function in a healthy gastrointestinal system and how they react to changes in environment, genetic makeup, or diet. Millions of individuals who suffer from gastrointestinal disease could be positively impacted by this work and its potential for creating new and effective therapies.

“I’m grateful and honored to be a Hanna Gray Fellow and part of the HHMI community,” said Dr. Scavuzzo. “This opportunity will equip me to do cutting-edge science and to dive into the unknown, not only throughout my postdoc, but into my formative years as an independent research investigator. It has been a dream of mine to lead a team of diverse scientists on expeditions to explore new biology, and this award makes that dream a reality.”

Paul Tesar, DPhil, a NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus and Dr. Scavuzzo’s mentor, did not hesitate to sing her praises regarding her new fellowship.

“Marissa is truly a science superstar in the making,” said Dr. Tesar. “I am so proud of her for receiving this prestigious award from HHMI to launch her independent career. I look forward to the many major contributions that she will make to science and medicine.”

Congratulations to Dr. Scavuzzo on this well-deserved award!

Cover image credit: Case Western Reserve University

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