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Arnav N. Chakravarthy

Homestead High School
Cupertino, CA

Leveraging Mitochondrial DNA Mutations for Macrophage Lineage Tracing in Primary Human Tissues

Arnav Chakravarthy compared the genetic origins of a type of immune cell, known as macrophages, in the brain, liver, and bone marrow to learn more about how they replenish themselves. Most cells could be traced back to their embryonic beginnings, however, Arnav found evidence that certain brain cells may also be replenished from our bone marrow as we age. His findings may shed light on future targeted therapies for age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Arnav N. Chakravarthy, 18, of Sunnyvale, investigated how macrophage cells replenish in aging humans for his Regeneron Science Talent Search cellular and molecular biology project. A macrophage is a type of immune system cell that’s important for the body’s inflammatory response and cleanup. It is believed these cells originate during fetal development, but recent studies suggest that macrophages may also develop from bone marrow as we age. Arnav hypothesized that a type of brain macrophage called microglia may also replenish in this manner.

To test this theory, Arnav used a genomics tool to trace the origins of brain and liver samples alongside bone marrow samples from the same donors and compared the cell’s lineage and unique mutations. His findings show promise for the regenerative possibilities of macrophage cells, including those that affect age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Arnav N. Chakravarthy
Society for Science/Chris Ayers Photography

Arnav serves as state secretary of the California Future Business Leaders of America and is co-founder and CEO of an A.I.-powered startup that streamlines research and workflows for scientists. The son of Leena Vakil and Venkatesh Chakravarthy, he has also captained the junior varsity tennis team at Homestead High School in Cupertino.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Arnav N. Chakravarthy

Beyond the Project

For his work with his startup, SciLynk Inc., Arnav was featured on Nasdaq’s Entrepreneurial Center as a “Face of Entrepreneurship” in July 2021 – nominated from a global pool of 30,000 entrepreneurs.

FUN FACTS: Arnav commemorates special moments in his life by collecting root beer bottles and cans, all labelled with important dates. They’re a visual and positive way to look back on his life’s journey.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist by Amy Wike
Illustration by Amy Wike