Winner of a 2017 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study, doctoral student Brittany Jenkins is committed to a career in medical research:
My research on the genetics of breast cancer health disparities has allowed me to travel many places to further my training. I am currently located in Detroit, Michigan, where I am continuing my dissertation work at Henry Ford Health System under my adviser, Dr. Melissa Davis. Moving here has afforded me an excellent opportunity to interact and network with top oncologists and clinicians, patients and other personnel in the health care field. I am able to attend weekly tumor board meetings where I hear about breast cancer cases and attend seminars, talks and conferences that allow me to stay on top of the current state of the field. This has been an amazing experience so far, and I am very fortunate to be able to finish my Ph.D. in this environment.
One of the organizations at UGA that is near and dear to my heart is GRADS (Graduate Research Assistants Diversifying STEM). When I first came to UGA for graduate school in 2014, a group of us were asked to revive an organization that aimed to serve and support minority graduate students in the STEM disciplines. As there was not currently a program like this at UGA, I jumped at the opportunity to lead this organization as president with the help of several other amazing graduate students. We worked together to build GRADS to the impact organization that it is today, continuing to serve minority STEM graduate students at UGA. One of our signature programs, Industry Night, takes place every spring and brings local industry professionals and highly motivated graduate students together for an incredible night of networking! Make sure you check it out!
I have been honored to receive several awards and scholarships from UGA and other organizations. I was the recipient of a UGA Graduate School GRO fellowship through the genetics departmental training grant, in addition to the Mary Laraine Young Hines ’68 Graduate Fellowship in Cancer Research. My work in cancer is something that is very personal for me, and I am so fortunate to be able to investigate genetic causes of racial disparities seen in breast cancer between African-American and Caucasian women. We study a very aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative, and hope to make strides in determining genetic factors that predispose certain groups to this subtype of cancer.
Jenkins' extensive accolades, international experiences and on-campus achievements are a testament to her passion and hard work. In so many ways, her aspirations reflect the very best of UGA - a place for scientists to discover and excel.