UVA professor wins Moore Inventor Fellowship

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 2:23 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - University of Virginia associate professor Rebecca Pompano is being awarded for her work to better understand the immune system.

This is the first time someone at UVA will receive the Moore Inventor Fellowship.

Initially having been trained as a chemist, Rebecca Pompano is now an expert on the immune system.

“Back when I was in college and graduate school, a dear friend of ours, Dana Nelson, who is actually from Virginia, he had multiple sclerosis and eventually passed away from that, and at that time, I was training to be a chemist,” Pompano said.

After switching her path to immunology, she realized there was a gap.

“There’s not enough physical scientists and engineers who are studying immunology, and nowadays that’s a really exciting area for people to go into because we can really make a big difference,” Pompano said.

Now, her work is being recognized with a fellowship, receiving three annual $250,000 grants and mentorship.

The goal of the research is to help help those with complex diseases through studying lymph node cells in the immune system.

“What we’re working on are ways to see how the immune system responds to things like a vaccine, or cancer, or a neurodegeneration in the brain,” Pompano said. “Ultimately, if we’re able to make this tool to be able to watch cells talk to each other, we hope that that will eventually lead to better drugs and therapies to help those patients directly.”

Over the next three years, Pompano’s goal is to take the project from where it is right now to a stage where it can be commercialized, allowing it to be used in other labs.

“We envision that this will be transformative for biomedical research,” Pompano said.

Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.