UCLA scientist recognized for research developing live cell analytical tools to advance bioprocess and biomanufacturing applications
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced today that Ajit Divakaruni, Ph.D., has received the Agilent 2023 Early Career Professor Award. Dr. Divakaruni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
The 2023 award focused on contributions to developing live cell analytical tools to identify and measure novel critical quality attributes to advance biomanufacturing applications. Dr. Divakaruni’s interest in developing cell-based metabolic assays to guide CAR-T cell manufacturing and bioprocess development strongly aligns with Agilent’s increasing attention to developing solutions that support immunotherapies and other cell-based therapies.
The Divakaruni lab focuses on how energy metabolism and metabolic flexibility – the ability to switch between sugar, amino acid, and fatty acid oxidation in response to biological cues – can control cell function and fate. This research aims to discover novel regulatory points of metabolism and develop mitochondrial proteins and pathways as therapeutic drug targets.
“I am honored and beyond grateful to have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Agilent Early Career Professor Award. It is a privilege to be recognized for our work in developing mitochondrial and metabolic assays to help guide early-stage drug development and inform cell-based therapeutics,” said Dr. Divakaruni. “Real-time, microplate-based assays have been central to the resurgent interest in cellular metabolism, and these will continue to be at the forefront as we continue to learn even more about how mitochondria and metabolism can shape cell function.”
“Dr. Divakaruni’s innovative research is expanding the basic science of understanding how cell metabolism can be a driver of cell function and fate and has also made critical contributions to live cell measurement tools that elevate researchers in this field,” said Chong Wing Yung, associate director of University Relations and External Research at Agilent. “We are proud to further engage with Dr. Divakaruni and support his future research endeavors, including analytical technologies for bioprocess and biomanufacturing applications.”
Dr. Divakaruni’s current work includes studying the crosstalk between metabolism and innate immunity and examining how adjusting the balance between sugar, fat, and amino acid oxidation can affect metabolic and neurological disease. The development and refinement of functional mitochondrial measurements are central to this work, and the Divakaruni lab emphasizes protocols and ‘roadmap’ manuscripts that may assist other researchers as they plan their experiments.
Future directions of Dr. Divakaruni’s research include developing novel cell-based metabolic assays to guide CAR-T cell bioprocess development and biomanufacturing. As critical quality attributes for producing efficacious cell therapies are still poorly defined, his expertise in cell metabolism and cell analysis will play a key role in helping to define these standards.
The Agilent Early Career Professor Award is an annual program that recognizes and supports promising research from professors who, early in their careers, show outstanding potential for future research in areas of importance to the communities Agilent serves. This award underscores Agilent's commitment to furthering research through the company's products and services, financial support, and collaborative engagement by Agilent scientists and engineers. Further information about the program is available at Agilent.com.
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