Sachin Bhagchandani Wins NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award
Sachin Bhagchandani, an Indian American student at MIT, has been named a recipient of an NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award. (mit.edu photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sept. 16 announced that Sachin Bhagchandani, an Indian American graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering currently working at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, has won the National Cancer Institute Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition (F99/K00) Award.
Bhagchandani is the first student at MIT to receive the award.
The fellowship is given to outstanding graduate students with high potential and interest in becoming independent cancer researchers, according to a news release.
Bhagchandani is one of 24 candidates selected for the fellowship this year.
The award provides six years of funding, which will support Bhagchandani as he completes his doctorate in chemical engineering and help him transition into a mentored, cancer-focused postdoctoral research position — one that draws on his wide-ranging interests and newfound experiences in synthetic chemistry and immunology, the release noted.
Bhagchandani’s research has evolved since his undergraduate days studying chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.
He describes the experience as rigorous, but constraining. While at MIT, he has found more opportunities to explore, leading to highly interdisciplinary projects that allow him to put his training in chemical engineering in service of human health, it said.
While completing his master’s thesis, Bhagchandani discovered his interest in the biomedical space while working on a project advised by MIT institute professor Robert Langer and Harvard Medical School professor Jeffrey Karp developing different biomaterials for the sustained delivery of drugs for treating arthritis.
As a doctorate candidate, he joined the laboratory of chemistry professor Jeremiah Johnson to learn macromolecular synthesis with a focus on nanomaterials designed for drug delivery.
“When I was exposed to immunology, I learned how relevant the immune system is to our daily life. I found that the biomedical challenges I was working on could be encapsulated by immunology,” Bhagchandani said in the report. “Drug delivery was my way in, but immunology is my path forward, where I think I will be able to make a contribution to improving human health.”
As a result, his interests have shifted toward cancer immunotherapy — aiming to make these treatments more viable for more patients by making them less toxic.
In his postdoctoral training, Bhagchandani plans to dive deeper into the regulation of the immune system, particularly how different dosing regimens change the body’s response to immunotherapies.
Ultimately, he hopes to continue his work as a faculty member leading his own immunology lab — one that focuses on understanding and harnessing early immune responses in cancer therapies, MIT added.
“I would love to get to a point where I can recreate a lab environment for chemists, engineers, and immunologists to come together and interact and work on interdisciplinary problems. For cancer especially, you need to attack the problem on all different fronts,” Bhagchandani said.