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NCSA Announces 2021 Fiddler Innovation Fellowship Recipient

Greyed out image of a five person panel, with the text 'Fiddler Innovation Fellowship' with Illinois Block I logo

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is happy to announce the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship’s latest recipient, Ariana Barreau. A first-year medical student in the Carle College of Medicine, Barreau won the $10,000 fellowship at the 2021 Illinois Innovation Prize virtual ceremony on April 15.

The Fiddler Innovation Fellowship is part of a $2 million endowment from Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden to the University of Illinois to support the Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute. Based at NCSA, the eDream Institute awards exceptional, creative, and interdisciplinary students and faculty who propose significant projects that address cultural and global challenges by incorporating the use of art and technology.

In collaboration with The Grainger College of Engineering’s Technology Entrepreneur Center, NCSA presents the $10,000 Fiddler Innovation Fellowship at TEC’s annual Illinois Innovation Prize ceremony. TEC and NCSA’s professor Donna J. Cox, director of the eDream Institute, and Olena Kindratenko, senior education and outreach coordinator, responsible for directing the SPIN program, conducted a rigorous selection process to determine the winners “who show promise of significant, innovative achievements.”

Barreau was awarded the fellowship for ProteCKD, a chronic kidney disease pre-screening program that she co-founded. It aims to reduce racial disparities in renal healthcare by increasing accessibility to CKD education, risk assessment, diagnosis and treatment. The program provides pre-screening kits equipped with urine testing strips, educational materials and information on affordable and local healthcare resources. ProteCKD plans to partner with community social programs such as food banks and shelters to distribute kits to those that need them the most.

Ariana’s interdisciplinary research addressing a grand challenge and her deep passion for social change are very impressive and align with the intent of the Fiddler Innovation Endowment. Ariana represents the future talent who will change the world in positive ways. We are grateful to Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden for their generous support

Donna Cox, NCSA Chief Scholar and Advanced Visualization Lab Director

Passionate about promoting interdisciplinary innovation and facilitating medical entrepreneurship, Ariana has also co-founded AxisMED. This healthcare pre-incubator aims to provide a launchpad for students interested in advancing medicine and grow a collaborative community of healthcare entrepreneurs across campus.

“With this award funding, I will be able to work with my ProteCKD team (Priya K., Andrew Chang, Phani Gaddipati, Thomas Chow, Isabella Lebovic, Dr. Sana Kamdar) to manufacture and distribute our kidney disease pre-screening kits and help marginalized patients in our community get earlier diagnosis and treatment for chronic kidney disease,” says Barreau. “I am also excited to use this funding to support budding healthcare innovators at UIUC through AxisMED, a medical pre-incubator that I co-founded with Al Smith, Alex Teague and Diana Wu.”

Maha Alafeef, a Bioengineering graduate student at the Grainger College of Engineering, was awarded the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize that evening.

Read TEC’s press release on the 2021 Illinois Innovation Prize.


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students and collaborators from around the globe use these resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing many of the world’s industry giants for over 35 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

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