Markita Landry: 2022 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

Markita del Carpio Landry: 2022 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

February 8, 2022

Follow the path of Markita Landry to becoming a scientist at UC Berkeley. (Video produced by the Vilcek Foundation)

Markita del Carpio Landry was born in Quebec, Canada, to a Bolivian mother and French Canadian father. She grew up a dual citizen of Bolivia and Canada, and when she was 14, her family immigrated to the United States. The challenge of being thrust into a new school while learning English bolstered del Carpio Landry’s love of science and mathematics; she said: “The classes made sense independent of language, and set my path as a career scientist.”

Del Carpio Landry earned her bachelor’s at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and went on to pursue her PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A physicist by training, she pursued postdoctoral work in nanotechnology and spectroscopy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build a comprehensive set of skills which she would go on to apply in her expansive research.

In 2016, del Carpio Landry earned a tenure-track appointment at the University of California, Berkeley. Fascinated by the brain, del Carpio Landry’s work centers on understanding aberrations in neurotransmitter signaling—a fundamental component in psychiatric disorders such as depression, and schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Merging single-molecule biophysics and nanomaterials, del Carpio Landry has developed probes to visualize neurochemical communication at the molecular level; her research has yielded insights into the range of neurotransmitter “communication styles” and their responses to stimuli with implications on the variable effectiveness of psychiatric drugs.

In the realm of bioengineering, del Carpio Landry has also led work that has elucidated transport phenomena in plants. This discovery enabled the development of new techniques of precise and targeted gene editing without permanent genetic modification. These discoveries have enormous potential for applications in agricultural biotechnology with regard to the development of food and medicine.

A devoted mentor, del Carpio Landry is passionate about empowering the next generation of scientific leaders. “I am motivated by the knowledge that my presence in STEM sets an example for others from immigrant and non-traditional backgrounds,” she says. “While it is rewarding to produce good science, my greatest impact will come from producing great scientists.”

Learn more about Markita at the Vilcek Foundation website.