- reconstructing the evolutionary history of venomous marine snails and investigating their toxins as biochemical tools for characterizing cellular communication in the nervous system and as potential drugs
- Ph.D., The Rockefeller University
Mandë Holford is as a professor at The Graduate Center and Hunter College with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her joint appointments reflect her interdisciplinary research, which goes from mollusks to medicine, combining chemistry and biology to discover, characterize, and deliver novel peptides from venomous marine snails for manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. Her laboratory investigates the power of venom to transform organisms and to transform lives when it is adapted to create novel therapeutics for treating human diseases and disorders.
Holford believes we need a new deal with nature, where we appreciate its intrinsic value and make a serious effort to conserve, protect and restore as much of what remains and has been lost, and at the same time we understand how nature is essentially tied to our health, agriculture and economy. Venomous snails can help give us new medicines, new pesticides for agriculture, and also innovations to drive our economy.
She has received several awards including being named a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer and 2015 New Champion Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum, a California Academy of Sciences fellow, the prestigious Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an NSF CAREER Award, and honored as a Breakthrough Women in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and NPR’s Science Friday. Holford is actively involved in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. She is co-founder of KillerSnails.com, an award winning EdTech company that uses tabletop, digital, and XR games about extreme creatures in nature, like snails that eat fish, as a conduit to advance scientific learning in K-12 classrooms. Holford co-developed a premier Science Diplomacy course at The Rockefeller University to encourage early career scientists to think globally about the impacts of their research as it pertains to international relations and the transdisciplinary and transboundary challenges we have to tackle. She is a life member of the Council of Foreign Relations and an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in Synthetic Protein Chemistry from The Rockefeller University.