Kelsey Dawes

Kelsey Dawes, Ph.D. student, Molecular Medicine

Revolutionizes personalized telemedicine

Hometown: Van Horne, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisor: Robert Philibert MD, PhD. Professor of Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering.
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in Molecular Medicine, May 2023
Please describe your research: My research investigates the interactions between genetics and the environment (epigenetics) in Type 2 Diabetes. My goal is to develop and commercialize a screening test using saliva that will accurately predict who will develop Type 2 Diabetes and identify diabetic patients that are at high risk of future complications via machine learning.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? There is no cure for Type 2 Diabetes. Making life style changes and starting medications as soon as possible is key to prevent diabetic complications, such as heart disease and kidney failure. Current clinical tools are not able to predict the development or complications of Type 2 Diabetes, are blood-based and therefore require several in-person doctor visits. This project has the potential to transform personalized telemedicine for diabetic patients.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began participating in research at the University of Iowa during the 3rd year of my undergraduate degree.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? My experience in research at the University of Iowa has given me invaluable insights into science, medicine, industry and the intricate connection between them. I have become more aware of the problems left unsolved in medicine, and their impact on patient care. My training here at the University of Iowa is not only enabling me to help solve these problems, but also to implement the solution into clinical practice.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After obtaining my doctorate, I plan to continue translational medicine research at Behavioral Diagnostics. My career goal is to directly translate and commercialize clinical epigenetic research to improve diagnostics and patient outcomes.

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