Stanford senior awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The scholarship, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, covers the cost of graduate studies in any subject at the University of Cambridge.

Maheetha Bharadwaj

Senior Maheetha Bharadwaj has been awarded a 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the award covers the cost of graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Stanford senior Maheetha Bharadwaj has been awarded a 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholarship for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Bharadwaj, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biomedical informatics, is one of 35 American students awarded scholarships, the Gates Cambridge Trust announced earlier this week. Including Bharadwaj, 37 Stanford students and alumni have received the scholarship since its inception.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Cambridge Scholarships in 2000 with a $210 million endowment to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue full-time graduate studies in any subject at the University of Cambridge.

Bharadwaj, 20, of Wildwood, Missouri, plans to pursue a master’s degree in genomic medicine at Cambridge.

Bharadwaj said she was humbled and honored to receive the scholarship.

“I am truly inspired and excited to join the other brilliant Gates scholars who are incredibly passionate about changing the world for the better,” she said. “I wouldn’t be who I am today without the support of my parents, sister, family, friends and science mentors, and I am so grateful to them for challenging me to improve myself every step of the way.”

At Cambridge, Bharadwaj hopes to explore the ways in which genomics research and technology can be incorporated into personalized care for patients.

“As an aspiring future health care provider, I am eager to learn ways in which I can intersect health care, genomics research and computer science,” she wrote. “Be it drug development through pharmacogenomics, or cancer diagnosis through cancer genomics, or prediction of treatment success through bioinformatics, I am confident that furthering my training in genomic medicine will equip me with the strong foundation, knowledge and the necessary skillset to deliver holistic and personalized care.”

At Stanford School of Medicine, Bharadwaj has conducted research for the Department of Genetics and the Department of Dermatology. She has also conducted research at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.

Bharadwaj is a co-author of “Systematic Discovery of Xist RNA Binding Proteins,” which was published in April 2015 in Cell.

As a Stanford student, Bharadwaj has taken part in service projects on campus, in surrounding communities and in rural India.

Since 2014, she has served as a project lead of the arts and science educational programs at Mural Music & Arts Project, a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, empower and inspire youth, and as a health educator at the Arbor Free Clinic, a community health clinic run by the Stanford School of Medicine.

Last summer, Bharadwaj created and distributed a health education video to low-income schools and clinics for underserved populations in rural Chennai, India, under a Donald Kennedy Public Service Fellowship awarded by Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service.

In 2013, she founded Stanford Music and Medicine, which encourages Stanford student musicians to perform at Lytton Gardens, an assisted living center in Palo Alto, California, and at the Opportunity Center, a supportive housing complex in Palo Alto. In 2015, she won a Stanford Spark! Grant to recruit student musicians and performers to record a compilation CD for the cause of music therapy, which the organization hopes to donate to nursing homes around the nation.

Bharadwaj performs and choreographs Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance, and enjoys performing and composing Indian classical music on the keyboard. At Stanford, she has expanded her fine arts horizon by joining hip-hop dance groups and founding XTRM, Stanford’s competitive Korean and East Asian pop fusion dance team.

If Stanford students are interested in overseas scholarships or if Stanford faculty are interested in nominating students for such awards, they may contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at, or John Pearson, director of the Bechtel International Center, at