Frontiers in Science: A universal method for detecting disease with Harshini Mukundan

A look at a new approach to diagnosing emerging infectious diseases, inspired by the human immune system

September 12, 2022

Harshini Mukundan

Frontiers in Science presents Harshini Mukundan and a look at a new, universal approach to diagnosing emerging infectious diseases, inspired by the human immune system. Join us for this free public talk on Thursday, Sept. 15, in Los Alamos or Friday, Sept. 16, in Santa Fe.

Thursday, Sept. 15
Crossroads Bible Church
97 E Rd, Los Alamos, NM
5:30-7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 16
New Mexico Museum of Art
107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM
5:30-7 p.m.

Emerging infectious diseases are a major concern to national health security, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. To prepare against unknown threats, we need an arsenal of tools — diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines — that can be used broadly against a variety of pathogens.

Our own innate immune system can recognize the entire gamut of pathogens that inhabit the Earth — whether it has seen them before or not! Inspired by this complex and beautiful pattern recognition system, Mukundan and her colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory and elsewhere have developed a diagnostic approach that has the potential to be universally applicable for all pathogens. Mukundan will discuss this approach and other new tools in the fight against pathogens.

This series is a public service of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows.

About the speaker

Harshini Mukundan is a program manager and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a visiting scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is also an affiliate of the New Mexico Consortium, Council for Strategic Risks, and an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico.

Mukundan holds a master’s degree in microbiology and a doctorate in biomedical sciences. After a short stint in industry, she joined Los Alamos in 2006 as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow, under the mentorship of Basil Swanson. Mukundan developed her diagnostics portfolio and capabilities during her time at Los Alamos.

Mukundan has received many honors and accolades, including the New Mexico Women in Technology Award, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows’ Prize in research, two R&D 100 Awards and others. She is a passionate mentor and STEM advocate. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mukundan was recognized as an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador in 2019. She was one of 100 women scientists featured in a 3D exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2022.