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Hannah Laurence selected as HHMI Fellow

April 23, 2015

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Hannah Laurence enjoying one of her favorite animals.

DVM student Hannah Laurence is taking a big step this August in her journey to become a veterinary research scientist. She was recently chosen by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as one of 68 top medical and veterinary students from 37 different schools in the nation to conduct full-time biomedical research in its Medical Research Fellows Program. The $2.8 million annual initiative is designed to develop the next generation of physician-scientists by giving the students a full year of mentored research training with some of the nation’s top biomedical scientists.

Laurence, who is just finishing her second year of DVM training, will step out for a year and join Professor Jeff Kieft at the University of Colorado School of Medicine to investigate genetic elements related to the cytopathic effects of Flaviviruses—the family of viruses responsible for diseases like West Nile, yellow fever and dengue fever. She will return to her DVM studies next August and graduate with the Class of 2018.

“I am thrilled to embark on a year dedicated to virology research,” she said. “While I’ve had research experience, I’ve never been able to fully immerse myself until this opportunity. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

Laurence received her undergraduate degree in microbiology from Colorado State University. She grew up riding horses and has an interest in large animal medicine, which, since the start of her veterinary education has evolved into an interest in pathology and virology.  She is considering combining clinical expertise with research in her future career. She conducted a STAR project on cattle last summer.

“I have an incredible amount of support from our faculty here at UC Davis and I am grateful to all those who have helped me in pursuing my dream of becoming a veterinary research scientist,” Laurence said.

HHMI offers Medical Research Fellowships to medical, dental, and veterinary students to allow students to spend a year devoted to full-time training in basic, translational, or applied biomedical research. Students are selected who show potential for careers as physician scientists and scholarly excellence during their undergraduate and graduate training.  HHMI has partnered with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to offer year-long research fellowships to veterinary students interested in careers in research. The Medical Research Fellows Program has funded more than 1,600 students since it was established by HHMI 26 years ago.

Read full press release from HHMI