Chemistry Major Sagi ’14 Receives Goldwater Scholarship for Academic Merit

Goldwater Scholar Andras Sagi studies how different compounds bind to quadruplex DNA. His research may lead to treatments for cancer.

A Wesleyan sophomore is the recipient of a prestigious award from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Andras Sagi ’14, a chemistry and molecular biology double major, is one of 282 college students from around the country who received a Goldwater Scholarship. Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The $15,000 scholarship will be applied to Sagi’s tuition, fees, books, and room and board over two years.

At Wesleyan, Sagi works with Philip Bolton, professor of chemistry, on localizing the binding of different ligands to quadruplex DNA, which may lay a foundation for cancer treatments.

“Quadruplexes are of considerable therapeutic interest because induction or stabilization of quadruplex formation in cells has been shown to cause cancer cell senescence and death,” Sagi explains. “Moreover, quadruplexes have a protein-like structural diversity, allowing for the development of drugs highly specific to particular quadruplex structures. Thus, pharmaceuticals capable of targeting certain quadruplexes may be of significant interest as treatments for cancer.”

Sagi is interested in determining where and how different compounds bind to quadruplex structures.

“If we can understand the locations of binding of various compounds to particular quadruplex structures, then we can help scientists design drugs capable of achieving similarly strong binding,” he says.

After graduating from Wesleyan, Sagi intends to pursue a doctorate in chemistry “at the best institution in my field  of biophysical chemistry I can receive acceptance to,” he says. “From this point on, I will seek employment either in academia or with the government, with the intention of becoming an established scientist at a national laboratory or institute.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on Nov. 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed over 6,200 scholarships worth approximately $39 million.