26 Aug UW scientist wins Pew grant to study little-known immune cells
Madison, Wis. – An immunologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of 15 U.S. researchers this summer to be named 2005 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
Jenny Gumperz, an assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology, will receive $60,000 per year for the next four years from the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent nonprofit organization that annually funds innovative research projects in the fields of science and technology.
“I feel proud and extremely flattered for being chosen for this prestigious award,” said Gumperz, who has spent the last nine years studying the physiology of “natural killer T cells,” one of several types of white blood cells.
Gumperz and her team are trying to ascertain how natural killer T cells may regulate a variety of immune responses in humans. “These cells seem to have some special properties that we’re trying to understand,” said Gumperz. “We may be able to harness their function to create therapies for a broad range of medical conditions.” The cells could one day help eliminate cancerous tumors and lessen symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. They may also prove effective in stemming new emerging infections.
The Pew grant money will support a postdoctoral fellow, Gumperz says, and will enable her to invite fellow researchers to UW-Madison and “promote collaborative exchanges.”
Gumperz came to UW-Madison two years ago, after completing postdoctoral work at Harvard University. She earned her doctoral degree at Stanford University and as an undergraduate attended the University of California at Santa Cruz.