A scientist sits at a lab bench for a portrait while others work in the background.

UA Professor Honored with Prestigious International Research Award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – An internationally recognized German foundation selected a professor at The University of Alabama for its well-regarded research award.

Dr. Ravi Kumar was chosen for the Humboldt Research Award, granted annually by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to no more than 100 internationally leading researchers of all disciplines outside of Germany in recognition of their academic record.

Kumar is a Distinguished University Research Professor in the College of Community Health Sciences with a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Science’s department of biological sciences and an adjunct appointment in the College of Engineering’s department of chemical and biological engineering. He is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of nanoscience and nanomedicine, which broadly aim to deliver drugs more effectively to the body using particles one-billionth the size of a meter.

Kumar came to the University in 2021 and is the director of the recently created Center for Convergent Bioscience and Medicine.

“The Humboldt Research Award is a great honor for an academic researcher, and we are thrilled one of our own is recognized,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development. “Ravi’s work is deserving of this award, and we know there are many more innovations and discoveries to come as he and his team continue their focus here at The University of Alabama.”

Researchers nominated for the Humboldt Research Award must have fundamental discoveries, new theories, or findings with a lasting effect on their discipline beyond their immediate research area and are expected to continue producing outstanding research.

The award amount is €60,000, about $68,000, and winners are invited to conduct research they choose at an institution in Germany in cooperation with specialist colleagues.

“This international research award is an amazing accomplishment and a testament to Dr. Kumar and his team,” said Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS. “We are so proud to have him as part of our CCHS team. We will continue to support his passion and desire to expand upon our knowledge of small molecules and oral drug discovery.”

Located in Bonn, Germany, the Humboldt Foundation encourages collaborative research among top scientists worldwide and German researchers.

Award recipients must be nominated by distinguished scientists/scholars employed by a university or research institution in Germany. Kumar was nominated for the award by Dr. Udo Bakowsky, professor at Philipps University of Marburg and managing director of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy.

“I am grateful for this recognition and support for our team through the award,” Kumar said. “We strive to improve drug delivery mechanisms so patients can achieve a better quality of life, and this external acknowledgment by esteemed colleagues will boost our efforts so we can seek more solutions to the challenges of finding effective disease treatments.”

Kumar works with basic and clinical scientists in establishing novel drug delivery mechanisms and their application to inflammatory, infectious and vascular disease conditions. His team currently leads more than $5 million in sponsored research projects, including four top-tier grants from the National Institutes of Health, one of which was recently awarded to study nanomedicine treatment for acute kidney injury.

As director of the UA Center for Convergent Bioscience and Medicine, Kumar oversees an integrated approach combining innovative drug delivery strategies with new drug discovery and drug repurposing.

He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, a Foreign Fellow with the European Academy of Sciences, Foreign Member of Academia Europaea, Fellow with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and has received several other national and international awards.

Kumar was featured on The Medicine Maker’s 2021 Power List, which celebrates 60 great minds who have brought the world innovation in small molecules, biopharmaceuticals and advanced medicine. Kumar has been recognized for his contribution to the world of medicine as an academic leader.

Kumar joined UA from Texas A&M, where he’d been since 2013. Prior to that appointment, he served about five years as a professor at the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. He was also an assistant professor at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in India and a research fellow at Saarland University in Germany.

Kumar earned a doctorate in drug delivery from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee in 2000, a master’s degree in applied chemistry from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya and a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from Nagarjuna University.

Kumar is the second UA faculty member honored with the Humboldt Research Award. Dr. Arunava Gupta, Distinguished University Research Professor, was selected for the award in 2010.


Adam Jones, UA communications, 205-348-4328, adam.jones@ua.edu