Forbes' "30 Under 30" List Highlights the Future Leaders of Biotech


Across the field of science and health care, there are numerous up and coming stars all under the age of 30. In its 2020 “30 Under 30” list, Forbes highlights some of these future Movers & Shakers who are beginning to make their mark in the biopharma and healthcare industries.

Basem Al-Shayeb – A Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, Basem Al-Shayeb has been working as a researcher in the laboratory of Nobel prize-winner Jennifer Doudna. 

According to Forbes, Al-Shayeb, 27, has discovered multiple groups of viruses that have large genomes. Among those is the record-holder for the largest bacterial virus. These discoveries have yielded some of the most compact and very versatile CRISPR gene-editing technologies to date. 

Amanda Chen – A scientist with Cambridge, Mass.-based startup Satellite Bio, Amanda Chen is developing first-in-class, implantable satellite organs as living therapeutic solutions of severe diseases. 

The 29-year-old Chen received her Ph.D. from MIT. Her research revolved around microlivers, which can enable cell therapies or replace organs in patients facing end-stage diseases. 

Zibo Chen – A postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, Zibo Chen is building molecular computers that can modify cells through the modification of proteins. Chen has already demonstrated the possibilities in T-cells and it is suspected his research can lead to the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics.

Chanyeol Choi – A Ph.D. candidate at MIT, Chanyeol Choi has developed an artificial synapse. His goal is to build hardware that can be used within the human body to potentially be used in healthcare. 

Choi, 29, hopes his model, coupled with artificial intelligence, can diagnose hard-to-define diseases and even predict problems before symptoms appear. 

Richard Ebright – 28-year-old Richard Ebright, an M.D.-Ph.D, candidate at Harvard Medical School, is researching circulating tumor cells. Ebright’s research leads to an understanding that direct ribosome inhibition with the chemotherapy drug omacetaxine selectively targets and kills highly metastatic circulating tumor cells in breast cancer. 

In addition to that, Ebright also conducted research that showed hypoxia signaling causes brain metastases to grow more quickly. This suggests hypoxia-signaling inhibitors may be used to treat brain metastases.

Brielle Ferguson – A Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University, 29-year-old Brielle Ferguson has identified a brain cell that plays a crucial role in psychiatric disorders. Her discovery can lead to better understanding and potentially new therapeutics for conditions such as schizophrenia and autism. 

Additionally, Ferguson founded BlackInNeuro, an organization dedicated to highlighting African-American excellence in brain research.

Richard Horgan – 29-year-old Richard Horgan is the founder of Boston-based Cure Rare Disease, a non-profit biotech that develops custom-made drugs for rare diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Horgan’s brother Terry is a DMD patient. 

Cure Rare Disease is currently working on a CRISPR-based therapeutic for this disease. The non-profit has raised about $2.3 million to conduct research on this drug, as well as others in its pipeline.

Ernest Lee – An internal medicine resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ernest Lee is researching how the body’s immune systems can cause inflammation. 

Already, Lee’s research has helped identify previously unknown molecular processes that may cause autoimmune diseases. 

Lee, 29, has also conducted research that led to the discovery that specific molecules structurally self-assemble DNA and RNA into nanocrystals that can exacerbate inflammation.

Cody Siciliano – An assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, Cody Siciliano is exploring the brain and the effects of substance abuse. 

Siciliano, 29, hopes to harness his research in order to develop better addiction treatments. His research led to the discovery of a brain circuit central to the development of compulsive drinking habits.

Edward Twomey – An assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, Twomey is researching neurotransmitters and how people learn and process memories. 

Twomey's research has pioneered an understanding that glutamate proteins develop functional units in the brain and how defects in those proteins can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.

Leonard Robinson – 29-year-old Leonard Robinson is lead manufacturing engineer at Cytiva, which was formerly known as GE Life Sciences. Robinson focuses on strategic IT and automation in order to support the security of supply for customers that manufacture biologics.

In his role, Robinson sits on strategic boards and tactical teams that determine shop floor execution for clinical trials, trains technologists and develops tests to ensure steady delivery of Covid-19 solutions during the pandemic.

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