For postdoctoral fellow Kristen Pauken, PhD, what “gets her up in the morning” are the cancer immunology experiments she is conducting alongside her mentor John Wherry, PhD, director of the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine. His lab concentrates on getting a better handle on what makes T cells exhausted after dealing with chronic diseases, such as hepatitis C, HIV, malaria, and cancer over the long term. “What motivates me is the raw passion for the science,” she said.
Named a Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow last month, Pauken shares her story in a new video featuring the 2015 fellows, shown at the CRI postdoctoral awards in New York last month. The audience watched her and Wherry, who also served as a CRI fellow (2001-2004), discussing their approach to translational research.
“It’s basic research that’s going to inform how to make immune therapy a cure for everybody,” she said in the video. “Endurance is critical for basic science as well as clinical science, and really sticking with it and seeing it through.”
As part of that approach, Pauken relishes working side by side with physicians like Alexander Huang, MD
, a clinical fellow in the Wherry lab who was also featured in the video, to better understand how they can more quickly transfer knowledge from the bench in preclinical studies to the clinic. As Pauken puts it, she can just call over to Huang about a new finding, “Look at this. This is going to impact how you’re going to treat your patient.”
Huang also presented new research on “reinvigorated T cells” as early biomarkers for metastatic melanoma patients at the inaugural CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference, which is associated with the CRI postdoctoral awards.
Chair of the CRI Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee Ellen Pure, PhD, chair of the department of Biomedical Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine is also featured in the video.
Watch the full CRI video with Wherry, Pauken, and Pure below.