Dr. Salil Lachke directs the developmental genetics laboratory at the Department of Biological Sciences, where he provides research instruction to students at various stages of their education – namely at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels. He also teaches the 400-level course Molecular Biology of the Cell (Honors) primarily taken by undergraduate juniors and seniors. This year, Dr. Lachke has been recognized for his dedication for excellence in both teaching and research through two major awards.
Dr. Lachke is the recipient of University of Delaware's excellence in teaching award in 2020 and the National Foundation for Eye Research's Cataract Research Award in 2020. Recipients of UD's prestigious teaching award receive $5,000. Furthermore, their portraits are displayed in the university's Morris Library for five years, and a brick inscribed with their name is placed in the Mentor's Circle. Teaching awards are funded by the Offices of the President and Provost. Students nominate candidates and the University Faculty Senate's Committee on Student and Faculty Honors selects awardees based on a rigorous pre-established criteria that demonstrates excellence in various areas of instruction. These include: being intellectually demanding and rigorous, being deeply committed to student learning and success, and having a positive and lasting impact on students' educational and career goals. Dr. Lachke was nominated for UD's excellence in teaching award every year for the past 5 years, and in 2020 was also nominated by Honors students for the excellence in Honors mentoring award. In 2019, Dr. Lachke was the recipient of UD's excellence in undergraduate academic advising and mentoring award.
Dr. Lachke's research laboratory focuses on identification of genes linked to eye disorders such as cataract. He has developed a bioinformatics resource tool called iSyTE that has greatly impacted discovery of new cataract-linked genes, including the post-transcriptional regulatory proteins Tdrd7, Caprin2, Celf1 and Rbm24, among many others. Dr. Lachke has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for nearly a decade and currently holds two single investigator R01 grants from the National Eye Institute. Contributions from his laboratory has led to the publication of 24 original research articles in just the last 3 years, including several articles that were featured on the journal cover. Dr. Lachke's research was recently highlighted by NIH Director Francis Collins in his NIH Director's Blog. For his significant contributions toward advancing cataract research, Dr. Lachke was selected as the winner of the 2020 Cataract Research Award by the National Foundation for Eye Research. This is a highly competitive international award and past awardees include world-renowned scientists such as Frank Lovicu (Professor, University of Sydney, Australia), Steven Bassnett (Professor, Washington University-St. Louis), Michael Wormstone (Professor, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom), Paul Donaldson (Professor and Head, School of Medical Sciences, University of Aukland, New Zealand), Hiroshi Sasaki (Professor, Kanazawa Medical University, Japan), Xioahua Gong (Professor, University of California-Berkeley) and Vasanth Rao (Professor, Duke University), among others.
In addition to being passionate about teaching, research and administration, Dr. Lachke has interests in developing novel approaches toward the public understanding of science – by merging story-telling, art and science. Dr. Lachke serves as the Department of Biological Sciences Associate Chair and holds a named professorship, being recognized as the Alumni Distinguished Early Career Professor of Biology.