With spring representing a time of renewal and hope, it feels appropriate that spring is also when we announce the two recipients of our Student Research Fellowships. The summer opportunity aims to inspire and cultivate the next generation of researchers dedicated to the lupus cause.
McKenna Vininski, University of Minnesota-Morris, and Thomas Blankespoor, Bethel University, will work with accomplished researchers at the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota, respectively, on lupus-related autoimmune research. They’ll execute experiments, perform literature searches and conduct corresponding research in tandem with the principal investigator.
Both awardees bring their own unique story to lupus research. Blankespoor’s interest in lupus comes from witnessing first-hand the chronic, life-altering manifestations of the disease. His experience with lupus began when he met his fiancée whose mother has lupus and who has recently starting exhibiting symptoms herself. Armed with a commitment to help those he loves, he looks forward to the opportunity to work side-by-side with those who share his passion for finding a new treatment.
For Vininski, a junior, her interest in lupus and immunology came by way of academics. An inspiring teacher and an immunology introduction class were the catalyst to her curiosity about how the immune system works and why it happens differently in certain individuals. With one summer fellowship already ‘under her belt’ in the field of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer, she hopes to continue to learn and build her understanding of lupus and other autoimmune research.
Look for information on the public research presentations from both young researchers coming in late summer.