Davis wins 2024 Quatrano Prize

Hannah Davis, a senior majoring in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been awarded the 2024 Ralph S. Quatrano Prize by the Department of Biology.


Established through a generous donation by Katherine Day Reinleitner, the Quatrano Prize is awarded to the thesis showing greatest evidence of creativity in design, research methodology or broader scientific implications. The award is given in honor of Ralph Quatrano, the Spencer T. Olin Professor Emeritus and former chair of biology.

Davis completed research in the Challen Lab, culminating in her thesis A Novel Droplet Digital PCR Assay for Improved KMT2A Rearrangement Detection in Leukemia. She was nominated by her Bio 500 independent research mentor, Grant Challen, Professor of Medicine.

In his nomination letter, Challen said, “Hannah’s work embodies the core principles of the Quatrano Prize. Her thesis demonstrates creativity to answer a fundamental question of leukemia biology regarding how oncogenic fusions form. This work required creativity, perseverance, and grit in the face of many failed experiments and troubleshooting during methods development. Despite these numerous setbacks, Hannah remained perpetually optimistic and thought deeply about what we needed to change or modify for when we tried again. In a short period, she has become a subject matter expert in the lab on digital droplet PCR, tissue culture and gene editing. Not only is she an expert in these fields, she also takes time to mentor new lab members (often more senior graduate students and post-docs) on these techniques. Her scientific creativity and curiosity shine through in her daily work in the lab and interactions with the team.”

Davis says, “I am beyond honored to be selected as the winner of the Quatrano Prize. Coming from a first-generation and under-resourced background, I came to WashU to pursue my passion for scientific research in hopes of making a meaningful impact on the world. It has been so incredible to see the applications of our research beyond the bench. The impact my mentors and the faculty at WashU have had on my development as a scientist cannot be overstated. I would like to say a huge thank you to Dr. Grant Challen, Dr. Andrew Young, Dr. Joe Jez, and Dr. Jim Skeath for their continued support, mentorship and encouragement.”

Davis will receive the award and prize during a biology awards ceremony in May.