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Atena Farkhondeh Kalat, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Scientific Project Manager and Staff Scientist

Division of Preclinical Innovation

Therapeutic Development Branch

Atena Farkhondeh Kalat, Ph.D., M.Sc.


Atena Kalat is a scientific project manager and staff scientist in the Therapeutic Development Branch within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation, where she manages early discovery and preclinical drug discovery projects that lead to identification of new drugs in collaboration with government agencies, academia and the private sector (e.g., pharmaceutical companies and disease foundations). Currently, she is responsible for managing antisense oligonucleotide therapeutic projects as well as rare genetic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases drug development projects. Kalat also serves as a reviewer of peer-reviewed journals and grant applications and has completed several senior management, science policy, leadership and federal acquisition training courses.

Kalat joined NIH in 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 2018, she joined NCATS, where she has gained experience in preclinical research and drug development in neurodegenerative and genetic rare diseases. She collaborates on projects with academia and the private sector throughout the translational science landscape.

Kalat received her doctorate in molecular cell biology and neuroscience from the University of Tokyo, where she was mentored by Japanese Nobel prize nominee Nobutaka Hirokawa, M.D., Ph.D., During her doctoral and postdoctoral fellowship in Tokyo, she studied intracellular transport, molecular mechanism and the dynamics of kinesin superfamily proteins in neurons and non-neuronal cells. Kalat recently was selected and recognized as an Asia 21 Young Leader — based in the U.S. — by the Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders program.

Research Topics/Professional Interests

Kalat’s research interests are in managing and initiating collaboration for early discovery and preclinical therapeutic development projects for rare genetic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. She currently collaborates on antisense oligonucleotide therapeutic projects, rare genetic diseases (e.g., congenital disorders of deglycosylation and glycosylation, Alagille syndrome, lysosomal storage disorders) and opioid-related projects in partnership with biopharmaceutical companies, academia and disease foundations and continues to explore new technologies. Kalat has been volunteering for more than a decade for several children’s charities in the U.S. and internationally.

Last updated on March 12, 2024