Gowda receives 2017 Young Investigator Award

It’s been fewer than four years since Dr. Chandrika Gowda completed her fellowship with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital, but she already has been recognized as one of the nation’s top young medical researchers.

Now an assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine, Gowda is a recipient of the 2017 Young Investigator Award from The American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, an annual award that recognizes excellence in research in the field.

Gowda credits her fellowship experience for helping her evolve into one of the country’s leading young researchers. When she began her fellowship in 2010, she recalled, she had no research background. But a year later, when she started her work under mentor Dr. Sinisa Dovat — himself a 2001 recipient of the Young Investor Award — an entirely new world opened up. Dovat’s lab studies pediatric cancer and is funded by Four Diamonds

“The most helpful part at that point was to be able to talk to all the research mentors that are available through the Four Diamonds lab,” she said, adding that their encouragement and assistance in learning the techniques combined with the program’s protected time to conduct research helped her project grow.

“I think that that’s unique to our program,” Gowda said of her fellowship experience. “During training years, it’s very important to have the protected time along with your clinical responsibilities taking care of your patients.”

Dr. Valerie Brown, director of the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship program and a 2003 recipient of the Young Investigator Award, said a significant focus of the fellowship program is research.

“We’ve tried to do our best to train our fellows to not only take outstanding care of our patients with the state-of-the-art therapies, but also we encourage them — and sometimes expect them — to be the ones developing those innovative, cutting-edge therapies that one day will hopefully be part of the standard of care and conventional care,” she explained.

Gowda estimates she spends about three-quarters of her time on research, which currently focuses on treating a specific subset of pediatric leukemia patients — the work that earned her the esteemed Young Investigator Award.

Read more about Gowda and her accomplishments in this Penn State Medicine article.

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Last Updated April 13, 2017