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Computational biologist Yuri Pritykin wins NSF CAREER award

By Julia Schwarz

Yuri Pritykin. Photo by Sameer Khan/Fotobuddy

Yuri Pritykin, an expert in genomics and computational biology, has received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, a top honor for early-career faculty.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Pritykin, an assistant professor of computer science and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, uses applied statistics, machine learning, and efficient algorithms to address fundamental problems in biology and medicine. The Pritykin Lab develops computational methods for design and analysis of genomic experiments, with a focus on genome editing and technologies that simultaneously measure multiple processes in a single cell.

The award provides $700,000 in funding over five years and will support Pritykin’s research related to CRISPR technology. CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a genome editing technology widely used across the life sciences to study genes and cell function. Pritykin’s research is focused on using genome-wide data and computational data structures and algorithms to develop new computational methodology for design and analysis of CRISPR experiments with the goal of making these experiments more efficient and targeted. The project also includes an educational component for undergraduate and high school students to learn about research in computational biology and expand access to careers in the field.

In July 2022, Pritykin also received a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The New Innovator awards support early-career researchers who are proposing novel and creative research concepts. The award includes a five-year grant of $2.4 million and supports his research on T cells, an essential part of the immune system. His research in this area focuses on creating new computational methods to understand the activation and response of T cells at a molecular level.

Pritykin joined the Princeton faculty in 2021, after doing postdoctoral research in the computational and systems biology program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His work has been recognized by the Princeton Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and the American Association for Cancer Research. Prior to completing his doctorate in computer science at Princeton, he studied mathematics at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia.

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