Celebrating the 3rd Annual Kravis WiSE Symposium at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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On March 29, 2022, scientists from around the country gathered in the Zuckerman Auditorium at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) for the 3rd Annual Kravis WiSE Symposium. This series of scientific talks by leading women in science is sponsored by the Marie-Josée Kravis Women in Science Endeavor (WiSE) and is held every year during Women’s History Month.

This year’s scientific speakers were Laurie Glimcher, MD, President and CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Erika Pearce, PhD, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Jennifer Zallen, PhD, Member of the Developmental Biology Program at the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Xiuzhen Chen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Christine Mayr’s lab at SKI; and Brianna Naizir, a graduate student in Andrea Schietinger’s lab at SKI.

Overcoming Barriers

The program kicked off with a panel discussion with Drs. Glimcher and Pearce, moderated by Linde Miles, PhD, and Mijin Kim, PhD — both former Kravis WiSE fellowship winners. The panel focused on the topic of “Overcoming Barriers in Academia.” Drs. Glimcher and Pearce each talked about what it was like starting a career as a woman in science, especially at a time when few women were in positions of power at their institutions. They also offered advice to the assembled trainees, gleaned from several decades of professional experience.

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Postdoctoral fellow Xiuzhen Chen talks about how working at MSK has inspired her to become a leader.
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Following the panel was a series of scientific talks, including ones from this year’s Kravis WiSE fellowship winners. Dr. Glimcher discussed her lab’s research on IL-22 blockade as a therapeutic approach for blood disorders; Dr. Pearce presented her lab’s work on mitochondrial shape-shifting in the T cell response; Dr. Zallen discussed the signals and forces controlling embryonic development in the fly; Dr. Chen, this year’s Kravis WiSE Postdoctoral Fellowship winner, spoke about her work on the membraneless organelle FXR1 as a matchmaker for protein complex assembly; and Naizir, winner of this year’s Kravis WiSE Graduate Fellowship, discussed her work dissecting the role of a protein called TOX in T cell differentiation and exhaustion.

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GSK PhD student Brianna Naizir shares how MSK empowers female scientists.
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Ushma Neill, PhD, Vice President of Scientific Education and Training at MSK and the symposium’s organizer, had this to say of the day’s events: “It was massively gratifying to see the MSK research community turn out en masse for one of the first in-person symposiums we’ve been able to hold. The day was an excellent celebration of the high-quality science being done by women. Our trainee fellowship winners, in particular, gave spectacular presentations that demonstrate the strength of science being done here at MSK.”

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An Integrated Network of Support

Launched in 2020, Kravis WiSE is devoted to supporting women pursuing scientific training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center by providing financial, travel, and daycare support as well as mentorship. Winners of Kravis WiSE fellowships are given the opportunity to present their research at the annual symposium.

This year’s speakers spoke of their gratitude to Marie-Josée Kravis for her support of women in science at MSK. Watch an interview with Marie-Josée Kravis speaking about why she created Kravis WiSE.

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