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Cancer researcher Aishwarya Prakash, Ph.D., was named the recipient of the Mayer Mitchell Award for Excellence in Cancer Research on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Published Nov 15th, 2022

By Carol McPhail

Cancer researcher Aishwarya Prakash, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2022 Mayer Mitchell Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.

Prakash is an associate professor in the University of South Alabama Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine and heads the structural biology facility at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.

The $10,000 award is presented annually to a promising scientist at the Mitchell Cancer Institute upon the recommendation of a faculty committee. The award was established in 2009 by University of South Alabama Trustee Arlene Mitchell in memory of her late husband, Mayer Mitchell, a Mobile businessman, longtime USA trustee and formative figure in the establishment of the MCI.

“Dr. Prakash is very deserving of this award. She is a diligent and innovative researcher who also is committed to mentoring and educating young scientists at the Whiddon College of Medicine,” said John V. Marymont, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Whiddon College of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs.

Since joining the MCI in 2016, Prakash has focused her lab on environmental agents that induce DNA damage and their impact on cancer formation and progression.

Supported by grant funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Prakash conducts structural and functional studies of DNA repair complexes in the mitochondria. She also studies gene-environment interactions that drive cancer progression in individuals with Lynch syndrome, a DNA repair deficiency syndrome that puts people at a much higher risk for certain cancers.

Prakash also collaborates with researchers at the University of Arizona to uncover the genetic and environmental causes of lupus, a project that is also supported by the NIEHS.

“We are grateful to have Dr. Prakash at the MCI, where her bright and positive disposition as well as her many contributions to all aspects of academic success are felt on a daily basis,” said Martin J. Heslin, M.D., MSHA, executive director of the MCI.

Prakash earned her Ph.D. in cancer biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2010. She then received training as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Vermont in the fields of DNA repair and X-ray crystallography. She also received specialized training in X-ray crystallography at the Brookhaven National Labs in Long Island, New York.

Prakash participates in many national and international organizations. She is a council member of the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS) and has been appointed to a one-year term on the EMGS Executive Board. She was awarded the EMGS Young Scientist Award in 2018 and was selected as the Young Investigator co-chair for the EMGS Annual Meeting in 2020. She also served as co-chair of the DNA repair special interest group and the Women in the EMGS, both three-year commitments.

At the Whiddon College of Medicine, Prakash currently serves as vice president of the Faculty Assembly and is a member of the Graduate Council.

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