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The American Association of Immunologists

AAI Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP)
2016-2017 Fellows

(To view past Fellows, click here.)

Al-Kuhlani, Ph.D.

Mufadhal Al-Kuhlani, Ph.D., University of California, Merced
I am very honored and excited to be selected for the 2016-2017 AAI PPFP. It is evident that there is a communication gap between scientists and public officials about funding priorities, which has negatively impacted the advancement of biomedical research. Participating in this program will allow me, on behalf of the AAI community, to assure policymakers that the kind of research we are conducting has been, and will always be, set to the highest standards. There is a need to re-emphasize that the public funding that immunologists, and researchers in general, receive must be considered a vital long-term investment. A better understanding of how decisions are being made on Capitol Hill will help me better serve my scientific and local communities.

Amiel, Ph.D

Eyal Amiel, Ph.D., University of Vermont
I am delighted and honored to be selected for the 2016-2017 AAI Public Policy Fellows Program. I am hoping to learn more about the inner workings of science policy and how we, as active researchers, can leverage our unique positions to better advocate for the value of scientific research at the local and national level. By learning more about policy and funding processes, I hope to use this experience to strengthen my own engagement in the public discourse. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as researchers to communicate openly with the public, whose tax dollars fund our work, and it is my hope that this program will enhance my ability to perform that role more effectively. I look forward to my participation in this program and thank AAI for this unique opportunity for professional growth.

Burrack, Ph.D.

Kristina Burrack, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
I am excited and honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow and truly look forward to participating in the program. To increase funding for biomedical research,
it is critical that scientists effectively explain the importance of their research to policymakers at the local and national levels. I am excited to participate in the PPFP so that I can become a better advocate for federal funding to support scientific research. In addition, I look forward to gaining a more complete understanding of how government leaders determine policy and how we, as scientists and citizens, can help shape those policies. Lastly, it is critical that scientists improve public awareness of, and appreciation for, biomedical research in their communities and across the country. This fellowship will afford me the opportunity to learn how to more effectively communicate biomedical research findings to the general public, as well as to become an advocate for the importance of continued government investment in scientific research.

Constantinides, Ph.D.

Michael Constantinides, Ph.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
I am excited to participate in the AAI Public Policy Fellows Program. I have always been interested in science policy and think it is imperative that scientists engage the public and voice their opinions to the government officials who represent them. Researchers are fortunate to receive public funds for their work, and – as experts in our respective fields – it is our duty to explain how our studies contribute to the greater good. I look forward to learning how scientists influence public policy and to making contacts that will enable me to advocate for biomedical research throughout my career.

Cranert, Ph.D.

Stacey Cranert, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
I was incredibly honored when I learned that I had been selected for the 2016-2017 AAI Public Policy Fellows Program. As a junior scientist, I am deeply interested in and excited for this opportunity not only to learn more about policy aspects of research funding at the federal level, but also to act as an advocate for scientists and immunological research. The techniques available to immunologists have increased exponentially within the past decade. Communication among scientists, public
leaders, and governmental policymakers are key to a successful integration of new immunological advances to improve public health. I’m grateful for this fellowship because it will give me the opportunity to better understand the rationale for federal funding of scientific research, and allow me to better convey to the public the importance of scientific research to public health.

Lykken, Ph.D.

Jacquelyn Lykken, Ph.D., Duke University School of Medicine
I am so excited and very honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2016-2017. Public policy is a profound means by which scientists can educate the public while also ensuring that we are able to continue to advance society through our discoveries and innovations. The AAI Public Policy Fellows Program provides AAI members with a unique opportunity to learn how to promote and influence biomedical research policy as active leaders in the scientific community. I am looking forward to learning the specific processes by which federal agencies develop research policy and effective ways to communicate with lawmakers, so that I can be a vocal advocate for biomedical research. I am also excited to establish relationships that will help me actively promote research policies and provide scientific expertise to the legislative community as I advance through my career as a scientist.

Ranasinghe, Ph.D.

Srinika Ranasinghe, Ph.D., Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard
I am honored to be selected for the 2016-2017 AAI Public Policy Fellows Program. As an immunologist involved in HIV/AIDS vaccines, I strongly believe that funding for biomedical research should be among the government’s top priorities. Supporting basic and translational research is essential to drive the discovery of an effective HIV vaccine, which in combination with other HIV prevention efforts, will bring us closer to achieving an “AIDS-free generation.” Increased government funding will also be critical for preventing and treating many other important diseases. As a Fellow, I am excited to visit Capitol Hill to see how government leaders formulate public policy, and learn how scientists can shape those policies at the highest levels.

Temple, Ph.D.

Rachel Temple, Ph.D., The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
I am honored to have been selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow for 2016-2017. I am excited to gain a better appreciation for how government officials devise research policies and funding levels, and how we as scientists can influence public policy to ensure continued support for our research. As scientists, we are taught how to communicate our ideas and research to other scientists in our field of study, but we are rarely given the opportunity to communicate our ideas to the public in general. Effective communication between scientists and the public is essential. I look forward to this opportunity to learn how to discuss the ideas and concerns of immunologists to the public in a manner that can instigate increased awareness and support for the research community.

Visvabharathy, Ph.D

Lavanya Visvabharathy, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
I am honored to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow. I became interested in how NIH funding works after the federal government sequestration of 2013. This affected many of the people I knew during graduate school, and it made me think about how little I truly understood about how academic biomedical research gets funded every year. I am excited that I will be able to get an insider’s perspective into scientific policy making through the AAI PPFP, and am very much looking forward to my fellowship year.

Young, Ph.D.

Mary Young, Ph.D., Center for Infectious Disease Research
It is an honor to be selected as an AAI Public Policy Fellow. I look forward to learning about the policymaking process and science advocacy at the federal level. I am excited to help bridge the gap between policymakers and scientists. Interacting directly with government leaders provides a great opportunity to increase their commitment to supporting biomedical research. I hope to convey the importance of funding basic research and foster the support of data-sharing initiatives. In addition, I would like to bring attention to enhancing diversity in science and supporting the careers of young scientists. I am thrilled to be a part of this program and to participate in discussions about enhancing the future of biomedical research.


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