Kelsey Roe, a second year Ph.D student at the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and pharmacology, JABSOM has received the Ellen M. Koenig Award in Medicine for work on West Nile virus (WNV) neuropathogenesis. Roe was selected as the `Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) scholar of the medicine’ and along with 11 ARCS scholars from other UH departments, was honored at the recent ARC-Honolulu chapter banquet. ARCS is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that supports meeting the national need for scientists and engineers by providing awards to academically outstanding students who are U.S. citizens. The award carries a $5,000 prize.
Roe is a PhD student in Dr. Saguna Verma’s laboratory and in her recently published work in the Journal of General Virology, she proposed that WNV initially enters the CNS without altering the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and later virus replication in the brain initiates BBB disruption, allowing unrestricted entry of leukocytes and a second wave of WNV into the CNS. This is the first study of its kind and challenges the paradigm that BBB disruption is the primary route of WNV – CNS entry. She has presented this work in several scientific meetings and has received `Second prize’ for the oral presentation at the annual meeting of American Society of Microbiology-Hawaii chapter. Her interests, besides research, are hiking, playing flute and beading.