Karthik Ravi, LSA ‘22, has been awarded a Churchill Scholarship! At Cambridge, Karthik will be pursuing an MPhil in Medical Sciences by working with Dr. Nitzan Rosenfeld, a world-renowned leader in the liquid biopsy and cancer research field.

“My specific project will be about exploring the feasibility of using urine and plasma as a reservoir for tumor DNA from high-grade brain tumors,” says Karthik. “I am very excited to work on this project and am ecstatic to see my goal to study at Cambridge become a reality.”

The Churchill Scholarship appealed to Karthik because it not only provides the opportunity to spend time at Cambridge, a hub for the types of research he is interested in but also allows access to a truly exceptional professional network. Karthik intends to pursue a career as a physician in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology at an academic institution.

A 2021 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Karthik’s research journey began early while in high school where he spent weekends working at the University of Michigan under Dr. Inhan Lee. During their time together, Karthik worked to help identify genetic signatures of brain cancer using genetic expression data from blood samples. This work set in motion Karthik’s continued passion for this field

Karthik has since joined the Koschmann Lab at the University of Michigan to further study the genetic drivers of pediatric brain tumors and gain exposure to the diagnostic side of cancer research.

“I then began furthering my interest in targeted therapeutics by leading the development of a formalized decision-making algorithm called CNS-TAP to assist clinicians with selecting the optimal targeted therapy for neuro-oncology patients,” said Karthik. Since going live CNS-TAP has been adopted by an international consortium (PNOC) for high-grade pediatric brain cancer clinical trials. The platform is already being widely used by clinicians and has started positively impacting patients throughout the world.

Asked about the Churchill Scholarship application process, Karthik shares, “[It] has been a rewarding experience in and of itself. It provided me an opportunity to thoroughly introspect on my research experiences thus far and to practice compiling my educational and research experiences together in a cohesive manner.” Furthermore, the application process allowed Karthik to strengthen relationships with his mentors and ultimately reaffirmed and validated his particular interests in neuro-oncology.

Karthik says, “I would encourage future applicants to take advantage of advising appointments with ONSF as I found them to be highly valuable throughout the application process."

He would like to thank Dr. Carl Koschmann, Dr. Allen Flynn, Dr. Neena Marupudi, Dr. Inhan Lee, Dr. Arumugam Jayakumar, and Dr. Jayakrishnan Nandakumar for their support and mentorship as well as all of his letter writers, professors, and faculty who have helped him on my journey thus far including Dr. Bernard Marini and Dr. Andrea Franson, among many others.