Apr 12, 2021
Ishika Saha
Ishika Saha (Harran group) is one of eight 4th year PhD students chosen from labs around the country to participate in the 2021 Genentech Graduate Student Symposium in Chemical Research.
The virtual two-day event, scheduled for May 10-11, 2021, recognizes promising young scientists while highlighting career opportunities in pharmaceutical research and development. This year's research award symposium will include talks by the eight student award recipients and Genentech scientists, as well as a Keynote seminar by Professor Ian Seiple of the University of California, San Francisco, and a Distinguished Career Lecture by Professor Donna Blackmond of Scripps. While the event will be virtual, Ishika will participate in a variety of activities designed to give students the full Genentech experience, including networking opportunities with Genentech scientists and executives.
An organic chemistry graduate student conducting research in Professor Patrick Harran’s laboratory, Ishika was born and raised in Kolkata, India. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Durham, England, where she received an integrated masters MChem degree under the supervision of Professor Ian Baxendale. While there, her research focused on the synthesis and reactivity of 3-benzalphthalide derivatives towards bioactive heterocyclic compounds.
“Ishika is special,” Harran said. “She is intellectually fearless, with exceptional talent and tremendous potential. Ishika is one of the most thoughtful, creative and dedicated students I’ve had in my lab over the past 23 years. Her research is spearheading a new direction for the group that could impact the way we discover small molecule ligands for proteins”.
Ishika is the lead author on a manuscript published in the Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) entitled “Computational Generation of an Annotated Gigalibrary of Synthesizable, Composite Peptidic Macrocycles”. “Ishika wrote this beautiful manuscript largely on her own,” Harran said. “She recently expanded the discussion into a four chapter, ACS–in-Focus monograph that will be published this year. Again, the manuscript was written entirely by Ishika.”
In 2020, Ishika was named a Senior Foote Fellow.  
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.