Eric and Wendy Schmidt standing with Saki Takahashi

Takahashi named Schmidt Science Fellow for study of complex human diseases

Eric and Wendy Schmidt (left and right) named Saki Takahashi (center) a Schmidt Science Fellow at an event on April 8 in New York City. The prestigious fellowship for recent Ph.D. recipients includes mentorship, professional development and a $100,000 stipend.

Eric and Wendy Schmidt announced on April 8 that Saki Takahashi is one of 20 new Schmidt Science Fellows — a program of Schmidt Futures, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust.

Takahashi works to understand the spread of infectious diseases. She completed a Ph.D. this year with Jessica Metcalf, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs. In her research, Takahashi investigated the geographical spread of measles in Africa and patterns of hand, foot and mouth disease in Asia.

As a Schmidt Science Fellow, Takahashi plans to combine molecular techniques with big data computing to explore complex human diseases such as malaria. She is especially interested in finding out how a person’s previous exposure to a disease shapes their future immunity.

The year-long fellowship seeks to develop the next generation of science leaders through interdisciplinary research, mentoring and professional development with the aim of helping the fellows tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

The program places the fellows in a new, world-leading research environment immediately following the completion of their Ph.D. studies. The placement must represent a disciplinary pivot from the fellow’s current work, to expose them to new ideas and techniques from a different scientific discipline. In addition, each fellow will receive a $100,000 stipend and personalized mentoring from internationally accomplished scientists.

“Our mission at Schmidt Futures is to bet early on talented people who hold the promise of making the world a better place,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and a 1976 graduate of Princeton's engineering school. “[These] Fellows represent some of the best aspiring minds in science and technology today, and we look forward to helping them harness these gifts for the betterment of society.”