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Kellie Schaefer Defends Ph.D. Thesis

Dec 18 2020

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20/20 Blog

Palo Alto, CA –Kellie Schaefer, a graduate student in the Mahajan Lab, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, “Insights into the Mechanisms Underlying Calpain-Related Pathology,” on November 13, 2020.

Kellie’s research included studying the expression of the calpain-5 (CAPN5) protein in the eye and brain. Additionally, she identified an overlapping molecular pathway between a blinding eye disease caused by CAPN5 and diabetic retinopathy. Her analysis of protease proteomic data with retinal tissues helped identify a potential therapeutic for this common eye disease. Mahajan lab researchers will continue to build on her discoveries.

Vinit Mahajan M.D., Ph.D., Stanford associate professor and vice chair of ophthalmology research, said, “Kellie made hard work fun with her sense of humor and warm personality. Her presence in lab and at lab social gatherings will be missed! She will thrive scientifically, professionally, and socially at any biotech company where she chooses to work. We hope she stays in Silicon Valley and that we have future collaborations that bring academia and the private sector together to move patient care forward.”

During her time with the Mahajan Lab, Kellie presented at many departmental seminars and international conferences. She won a Ruth L. Kirschstein F31 grant from the National Eye Institute. Kellie will be joining a leading  biopharma company where she will continue to work towards developing new therapeutics for blinding eye diseases.

Kellie said, “I want to thank Dr. Mahajan and my colleagues in lab and in the Stanford Ophthalmology department, along with my thesis committee members and family for all their support over the years.”