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Get To Know The 2020 KL2 Cohort

collage of the 3 new KL2 scholars for 2020-2021

Get To Know The 2020 KL2 Cohort

ITHS is proud to announce the new investigators for the 2020 KL2 Program cohort: Kristin Lastwika, Darcy Rao and Sam Rayner. The three-year KL2 Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development Program will give these early career investigators the research time, mentorship, and funding they need to continue to develop their research.

The KL2 program is open to investigators at the postdoctoral or early career faculty level who plan to conduct, or are conducting, translational research. We select candidates to focus on one of three research tracks: demonstrate, disseminate and develop. A large number of junior faculty investigators apply every year for this program, and the selection is never easy to make. Educational opportunities like the KL2 program are one of the most important ways ITHS supports its mission of improving health research. We’re excited to see what new paths our 2020 KL2 scholars blaze. Following are our new awardees:

Demonstrate Track:  Kristin Lastwika, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Proposal: Translating Autoantibodies for Small Cell Lung Cancer Early Detection and Treatment

Kristin’s research during her KL2 three-year tenure will focus on discovering blood-based autoantibodies, validating their ability for lung cancer early detection and moving the best candidates into CAR-T cell platforms. “The KL2 award will grant me a clear plan to complete the necessary skills to transition into my own research lab,” Kristin told us. “I am driven to produce, publish, and develop rigorous translational research, not only to reach my goal of becoming a principle investigator, but more importantly to impact patient care. The training from this project will clearly prepare me to be a leader in efficiently and effectively translating scientific discoveries into clinical innovations.”

Disseminate Track: Darcy Rao, PhD – Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Global Health, School of Public Health

Proposal: Optimizing cervical cancer screening for women living with HIV in the United States

Darcy’s long-term career goal is to use mathematical modeling to bridge epidemiologic research and public health practice to improve prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. She told us, “The ITHS KL2 program will be invaluable in helping me advance towards that goal and establish independence in my research. In addition to guidance from my mentorship team and KL2 faculty, the program will provide me with opportunities to learn from people working at different stages of the translational science continuum and foster new multidisciplinary collaborations to push the frontiers of discovery, implementation, and dissemination.”

Develop Track: Sam Rayner, MD – Acting Instructor, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Proposal: Cellular Responses to Shear Stress in Engineered Pulmonary Hypertension Models

Sam’s long-term research goals are focused on establishing new bioengineered microvessel models of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) that incorporate human patient cells and mimic either physiologic or pathophysiologic environments. He seeks to use gene editing and stem cell approaches to create cells that can be used for mechanistic studies within in vitro microvessels, in hopes of identifying new treatment for this currently incurable disease. “The ITHS KL2 award will provide me with critical support at this early stage in my career, and help me advance toward my goal of becoming an independently funded physician scientist performing translational research into Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.”