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Verne M. Willaman Gateway to the Sciences.

Santhosh Girirajan named interim head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

2 June 2023
Santhosh Girirajan

Santhosh Girirajan, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been named the interim head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, effective July 1, 2023. He will service in this role for one year.

“Santhosh has been an active member of the departmental community and will bring a strong research background, passion for teaching, and dedication to creating a welcoming work environment,” said Tracy Langkilde, Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “I am so appreciative that Santhosh is willing to serve in this interim role at a critical time for the department, and I am confident that he will take the department to even greater heights.”

Girirajan has a strong research record spanning the fields of genomics, neuroscience, bioinformatics, and molecular biology and appreciates the importance and breadth of research in the BMB department. His service on advisory boards for rare disease organizations, editorial boards of journals such as PLOS Genetics, and as a standing member of an NIH study section reflects his reputation in his field. Santhosh has served in important leadership roles at Penn State and beyond, including chairing Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology faculty search and Climate and Diversity committees, serving as a member of the Eberly College of Science Next Steps committee, a mentor for the college’s Launch program, and director of the NIH Computation, Bioinformatics, and Statistics (CBIOS) training program.

He has mentored 70 undergraduate and graduate students in his research group and works to foster an inclusive and healthy work climate. He is a dedicated educator and has won awards for his teaching and research excellence at the departmental and college levels, including the C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society in 2018, the Basil O’Connor Award from the March of Dimes foundation in 2014, the Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Foundation in 2014, and the Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Faculty Teaching Award from Penn State in 2015.

Girirajan joined Penn State as an assistant professor in 2012 in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Department of Anthropology. He was promoted to associate professor in 2018 and professor in 2023. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. He earned his doctoral degree in human genetics from the Medical College of Virginia of the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, in 2008 and completed his medical training at Bangalore University, India, in 2001.