Carnegie Mellon University

Saumya Saurabh

March 21, 2013

Graduate Student Saumya Saurabh Receives Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship

Saumya Saurabh has been awarded the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship in the Mellon College of Science in recognition of their outstanding creativity, dedication and commitment to carrying out leading-edge research. The fellowship provides tuition, stipend and fees for up to one year of graduate study, as well as $1,000 for conference travel or other research expenses.

Saurabh, a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry, develops fluorescent biosensors that can observe—down to a single molecule—how cell membrane proteins function. He is advancing a technology developed at CMU’s Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center called fluorogen activating proteins (FAPs). These genetically encoded probes emit fluorescent light only when bound to an otherwise non-fluorescent small molecule called a fluorogen. Saurabh has developed FAPs that protect their bound fluorogen molecules from destruction, making the FAP-dye complex more photostable and longer-lived. As a result FAPs can be used to image cellular functions with nanoscale precision over long time scales (tens of minutes). Saurabh is using his highly photostable FAPs with a single-molecule imaging paradigm that he developed to study a membrane protein called beta2 adrenergic receptor. By developing a system of multi-colored, highly photostable biosensors to label the receptor, which interacts with other proteins in the cell signaling pathways of many tissues, including the heart, lungs and digestive tract, Saurabh will be able to track the receptor and its associated proteins in real-time to better understand its function.

“Saumya is exceptionally creative and resourceful,” said Marcel Bruchez, associate professor of biological sciences and chemistry, and Saurabh’s research advisor. “He has a great grasp of the potential applications of his findings in the lab, and the initiative to pursue them.”

Saurabh’s expertise in fluorescent probes and single molecule imaging has made him a valuable collaborator to scientists and engineers across Carnegie Mellon, including biologists, computational biologists, materials scientists and a mechanical engineer. He was recognized at the prestigious Aspen Conference on Single Molecule Biophysics, where he got a special mention for the development of fluorescent biosensors.

For additional McWilliams Fellows, see originally published story: