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NHLBI Rising Star: Gregory Alushin

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In 2012, Gregory Alushin was, in many ways, a typical graduate student. He was finishing up his dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley while preparing to take on a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Clare Waterman at NHLBI’s Laboratory of Cell and Tissue Morphodynamics. He was looking forward to carrying out cutting-edge cell biology research at NHLBI, hopeful that his post-doc would be the start of a fruitful career.

That career took off faster than he ever could have imagined. In September 2013, Greg received an NIH Early Independence Award, which recognizes exceptional junior scientists recently out of school and allows them to skip the years of traditional post-doctoral training and move immediately into independent research positions. Then just a few months later, Greg’s profile rose even higher when he was named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in science and health care in 2014.

It has been a quick transition from student to mentor, but he is excited for his new career phase as an investigator leading the Laboratory of Macromolecular Interactions. The lab will focus on the mystery of how cells sense and respond to mechanical signals in their surrounding environment (as opposed to chemical signals like hormones). Greg wants to develop a comprehensive picture of this cellular “mechanosensing” by combining techniques from biophysics, structural biology, and cell biology; he’s also excited that he is staying on at the NHLBI to carry out his research, as he can interact with leading experts in each of those respective fields.  And now that his lab is stocked and ready to go -- and his first employee has arrived -- Greg is ready to begin.

First, though, Greg did take a little time to sit down with NHLBI and discuss his research, his accomplishments, and life as an independent investigator.