Principal Investigator

Gaurav Chopra, Ph.D. 
 Associate Professor of Analytical and Physical Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry, Purdue University (2016-present)


    Gaurav Chopra is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Computer Science at Purdue University and the Director of Merck-Purdue Center for Measurement Science - a Merck sponsored center funding projects across Purdue University College of Science, Pharmacy and Engineering. Chopra is a core member of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery, Integrative Data Science, Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience and Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease. Chopra did his PhD with Michael Levitt (2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) in computational mathematics, chemistry and biology at Stanford School of Engineering and School of Medicine and then was a JDRF fellow in experimental immunology with Jeffrey Bluestone at the University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine. Chopra’s research program in Chemical and Cellular Immunology is focused on developing and using closed loop AI/ML methodologies, chemical tools for drug discovery, single-cell bioanalytical methods and animal models to understand immune and glial cells dysfunction in chronic inflammation and disease to identify and then target “brakes” of the immune system for cancer and neurodegeneration. His laboratory brings experimental immunology, AI/machine learning, chemical reactivity, mass spectrometry and modeling together in a chemically guided experimental research program. Chopra is the winner of two NIH ASPIRE Challenge awards, Showalter Research Trust Award, Jim and Diann Robbers Research Award, Teaching for Tomorrow Award and College of Science Award for Undergraduate Advising. Chopra has consulted for several companies, including Merck & Co, Deciduous Therapeutics. Chopra’s research is externally funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) including Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Merck & Company, The Geneva Foundation, Agilent Technologies, Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI), Indiana CTSI and the Center for Bioanalytical Metrology. Chopra has mentored 6 postdoctoral fellows, 13 graduate students and over 30 undergraduates from chemistry, computer science, and biochemistry.

     Chopra is committed to diversity in academia and have been the co-PI of NSF-REU award that selects underrepresented minority undergraduate students in STEM and funds them to do summer research in analytical chemistry with faculty from Purdue Chemistry. To broaden the participation of minority or underrepresented groups in STEM, Chopra provides research opportunities in his laboratory through Purdue Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) programs (visiting students from India), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and providing research experience to high school students. He is passionate about outreach, teaching and discovery. To this end, his lab has created a virtual reality based molecular interaction game, MINT and have conducted several outreach events for K-12 and university students to enhance their love for science.

Vision Statement - Chopra's vision is to establish a Center for Chemical and Cellular Immunology with both basic science and translational focus to affect human health in Cancer, Neuroimmunology, and beyond, eventually affecting all areas of Medicine. Such a Center does not exist in the United States, and I would like to develop this world-class program as the next frontier in Medicine by bringing together ideas and expertise from Immunology, Cancer Biology, Neuroscience, Chemistry, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Engineering and Medicine. The initial focus will translate novel immunological therapies for cancer and neurodegeneration by developing tools and targeted therapeutics. Neuroimmunology is where cancer immunology was ~15 years ago and this is a huge untapped opportunity for the future of medicine. The basic science in chemistry, immunology and engineering in partnership with disease experts and clinical scientists will be essential to translate these discoveries to new medical frontiers beyond small molecules, biologics and targeted cell therapy. Typically, such diverse fields do not deeply interact with each other, and my research experience and multidisciplinary expertise is well-suited to take on such a leadership role to make this vision into a reality.