Ratna Sharma

Born in France, Ratna Sharma graduated from John Jay Senior High School in Hopewell Junction, NY as the class valedictorian. At Columbia University, she plans to major in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Chemical Engineering on the pre-med track followed by an MD/PhD. Fueled by multiple serious family medical issues, she is determined to transform healthcare through medical innovations.

As a sophomore, Ratna commenced her bioscience research journey at Stony Brook University (SBU) investigating the effect of insulin on the genetic expression of Alzheimer’s Disease, also known as Type-3 Diabetes. She discovered the complex interrelation of diabetes with neurodegenerative diseases. In her junior year, she was selected to work on ALS as a Simons research scholar by Professor Roger Sher in the Neurobiology Department. She was offered the 7/8 year integrated BS-MD guaranteed medical program at SBU medical school amongst other medical schools.

She furthered her research experience by examining alcohol cellular metabolism at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, India, developing mitochondria-specific therapeutics for alcoholic patients under the supervision of Professor Jayesh Bellare in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biosciences. As a junior, she conducted paid research under the guidance of Professor Aric Rogers at MDI Biological Laboratory in Maine. She published a peer-reviewed paper in the journal, Nutrition and Healthy Aging on the evolutionary conserved nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway as a gene-expression regulator to extend longevity.

She was selected to conduct clinical cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York in summer 2020; however, due to the pandemic, she attended a virtual lecture series, learning the fundamentals of translational cutting-edge cancer biology. She was offered the Winston Data Scholarship and completed a Data Science class at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

Finally, at Stanford University, Ratna researched the integration of humanities into STEM, creating a virtual immersive theatrical experience on astrophysics using artificial intelligence. Her paid research was guided by Professor Tsachy Weissman, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was privileged to be invited as a speaker at the Stanford Compression Forum, Feb 25-26, 2021. She is working on publishing a paper in Johns Hopkins University’s Theatre Topics journal. She was one of the two recipients of the Charles Westgate Engineering full-ride scholarship at Johns Hopkins University.

Ratna was also selected to attend Columbia’s Science Honors Program and focused her studies in biological and chemical sciences, fueling her passion for biomedical research.

Outside of research, Ratna has played competitive soccer and basketball for 15 years. She played varsity soccer since 9th grade, becoming team captain. She also played basketball in high school and competitive field hockey. Additionally, she is an accomplished Indian Classical (Bharatanatyam) and Bollywood dancer, performing since her early childhood. She has achieved the equivalent of Arangetram, the grand finale and highest accolade in classical dance. She held leadership roles in her school’s Science Olympiad and Math Honor Society.

She helped co-found Impact Initiative, a local organization that empowers the next generation, providing emotional, educational, and financial support to the vulnerable, underserved youth. While in India, she worked with a humanitarian charitable trust in Bombay, educating impoverished people. She was enlightened with the realization that the intellect of the poor is the biggest untapped resource in the world. These personal experiences further motivated her passion for biomedical research to help the underprivileged.