Jenny Jiang Receives NSF Early CAREER Award

Jenny Jiang portrait cropped

Assistant Professor Jenny Jiang has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. This award is the most prestigious offered by the NSF’s CAREER Program.

The 550,000 award will fund research that has the potential to improve vaccine design and disease interventions. Jiang’s goal for engineering T cells targeting pathogens and cancers is to achieve long-term immune memory.

She will use NSF funding to develop a way to engineer T cells that allows them to retain pathogen memory for a long duration. There are currently many challenges to understanding what prevents T cells from forming long-term memory. Jiang will leverage many tools that she developed in high-throughput sequencing and single cell analysis. She will employ multidisciplinary expertise in immunology, engineering, and computational biology, ultimately developing a platform for vaccine and immunity engineering for future studies.

Broader impacts of her research include inviting creative ideas from diverse undergraduates and preparing a future generation of K-12 students in STEM fields. She will develop a new course for undergraduate students titled “Engineer your T-Cell Immunity the STEM Way,” which will introduce students to how science, technology, engineering, and math have been used to advance systems immunology and immune engineering.

“Dr. Jiang is developing novel approaches to understand the role of the micro RNA networks in T-cell memory generation, and the importance of receptor affinity in this process. The outcome will help to provide a more efficient method to develop vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer, ” said Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The award provides up to five years of funding to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through an outstanding integrated education and research program that has a transformative impact on societal needs.