MISSOULA – University of Montana doctoral candidate Joanna Kreitinger was one of 48 people nationwide selected to receive a 2016 American Association of Immunologists Careers in Immunology Fellowship. This highly competitive fellowship will provide Kreitinger with one year’s salary to support her training in UM Professor David Shepherd’s lab, which is housed in the College of Health Professions & Biomedical Sciences.
“Joanna has been awarded this highly prestigious fellowship based on her exceptional research and hard work that is advancing our understanding of how the immune system functions in health and disease,” Shepherd said.
Under Shepherd’s leadership, Kreitinger will study immune cell development and contribute to a better understanding of the role the immune system plays in lung diseases. As a member of Shepherd’s team, Kreitinger’s research likely will contribute to the development of new drugs to treat diseases of the immune system.
“She is an outstanding scholar and scientist and is highly deserving of this honor, and she has an exceptionally bright future ahead of her in science,” Shepherd said. “It has been my pleasure to mentor Joanna during the past several years and I am very excited about working with her on this project over the next year.”
Kreitinger, a native Montanan from Manhattan, earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from UM in 2012. After graduating with her undergraduate degree she continued her education at UM first as an undergraduate research fellow studying the toxicity of Atrazine, a commonly used herbicide, in the lab of UM Associate Professor Scott Wetzel. She continued in Wetzel’s lab doing a research rotation aimed to define, at a basic level, how immune cells communicate with each other. Beginning in 2014 Kreitinger began working with Shepherd to research dendritic cells – the hardest working cell of the immune system.
In addition to this fellowship, Kreitinger has earned numerous awards. In the past year she earned UM’s GradCon Spotlight on Innovation Award; Society of Toxicology’s First Place Best Presentation by a Student in Immunotoxicology; and twice has been awarded the Comparative and Veterinary Student Travel Award by the Society of Toxicology.
She also has published, as a lead author, in the Journal of Immunology and been a co-investigator on a study published in Toxicological Sciences.