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Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar
Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar received the 2023 Biomaterials Young Investigator Award and was elected a National Academy of Inventors Senior Member. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been named a recipient of the 2023 Biomaterials Young Investigator Award. The award honors early-career researchers who have positively impacted the field of biomaterials.

The announcement of the award came shortly after Gaharwar was also elected a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Senior Member – a title only bestowed upon inventors who “demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.”

Gaharwar joined Texas A&M in 2013 as an assistant professor and has since dedicated his lab to research in biomaterials and regenerative medicine while contributing to complementary fields such as nanomaterials, drug delivery and stem cell engineering.

Products that have emerged from Gaharwar’s lab include a mineral-based technology to promote cartilage regeneration for patients suffering from osteoarthritis, as well as injectable hemostatic agents for major wound treatment.

“We aim to create smart and responsive biomaterials that can interact with the body in a biologically meaningful way,” Gaharwar said. “Our ultimate goal is to bring these new and innovative solutions to patients and help improve their health and well-being. By developing these new biomaterials, we hope to make a real-life impact on patients and help them overcome their health challenges.”

Among these new honors, Gaharwar has been the recipient of early-career awards such as the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Rising Star Award and CMBE Young Innovator Award. He credits his success to three values: prioritizing an interdisciplinary approach, a passion for translational outcomes and a heart for collaboration.

“I believe that success in research is not an individual effort, but a collective one,” Gaharwar said. “By fostering strong partnerships and collaborations with other researchers, I have been able to pool our knowledge and resources, leading to more effective and efficient outcomes.”

Although Gaharwar is the researcher receiving the awards, he said he feels his accolades should also extend to his team, mentors and collaborators. Gaharwar also believes that the department offers an ideal ecosystem for interdisciplinary research, providing students and colleagues with the necessary resources and support to excel.

“These awards testify to the hard work and dedication of my students and amazing collaborators,” he said. “Their contributions have been invaluable to the success of our research, and I am honored to accept these awards on their behalf. The recognition not only motivates me to continue working tirelessly with my team, but it also highlights the significance of our findings and the impact it has made in our field.”

Moving forward, Gaharwar sees the recognition as means to provide his lab with a platform to further advance their knowledge and create tangible results. He advises young aspiring researchers to keep pushing forward.

“Pursue your passion, form meaningful collaborations, stay open-minded, stay current with the latest developments in your field,” Gaharwar said. “Embrace failures as learning opportunities, seek mentorship and most importantly, find balance between hard work and enjoyment in your research journey.”

Gaharwar will be inducted as a senior member at the NAI’s annual meeting in June and will receive his Biomaterials Young Investigator Award at the Society For Biomaterials’ annual meeting in April.