At least two Indian American post-graduate students were named among the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge, the university announced in a Feb. 8 news release.

A total of 36 scholars were named including Sarita Deshpande and Angela Madira.

Deshpande is currently studying bioengineering with a concentration in cellular and tissue engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

As an undergraduate student, she engaged in neuroscience and bioengineering research, which fostered her passion to study ocular pathology in the scope of neuroscience, she said in her scholar bio.

She will study M.Phil in medical science at Lucy Cavendish College in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

During the scholar year, she will study the aetiology of glaucoma and the mechanisms of cell death, which can provide further insight into developing novel therapeutic options.

"I am honored and excited to join the dynamic group of scholars that make up the Gates Cambridge community," she said.

Madira, who was also named an Amgen Scholar in 2015, will be just 17 when she starts her M.Phil in health, medicine and society at Newnham College, becoming the first genuine millennial Gates Cambridge Scholar.

She began her B.Sc. in biochemistry at California State University in Los Angeles at the age of 12 and is about to publish a paper on the removal of dermoid cysts based on clinical research at the L.A. Children's Hospital.

Her M.Phil dissertation will focus on the efficacy and ethics of existing mammalian research models.

She hopes to target the philosophy of cognitive psychology through the multispecies interactions between humans and animals, particularly scientists and their test subjects. She plans to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

“My undergraduate career has led me to a unique journey committed to unlocking the secrets of the human brain while constantly contemplating the meaning of ‘ethics’ in the fields of research and medicine,” she said in her profile. “I have had the opportunity to study neuroscience from a molecular, physiological, and clinical perspective. In the future, I hope to use this knowledge to explore neurological disorders in children.”

The Gates Cambridge U.S. Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards beginning in October, are from 34 universities, including three which have never before had a Gates Cambridge Scholar — Mississippi State University, California State University Los Angeles and Loyola University in New Orleans.

The scholars will study and research subjects ranging from collaborative songwriting to improving health outcomes, spider behavior, voter analytics to cancer therapeutics targeting the side effects associated with chemotherapy, the university said.

The prestigious postgraduate scholarship program — which fully funds postgraduate study and research in any subject at the University of Cambridge — was established through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

Since its 2001 inception, there have been more than 1,600 Gates Cambridge Scholars from 104 countries who represent more than 600 universities globally and 80 academic departments and all 31 colleges at Cambridge.

The 36 U.S. Scholars-elect will join 54 Scholars from other parts of the world, who will be announced in early April after interviews in late March and will complete the class of 2017.

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