Kaitlyn Lewars


Rockaway, NJ

Academic Interests

Major: Global Health and Biology

Fun Fact

My grandmother died in Jamaica mainly due to medical carelessness. She was misdiagnosed and neglected by the hospital healthcare professionals because she was poor. This is a reality in many poor underrepresented societies. My grandmother’s death set in motion my desire to find solutions for age-related illnesses and other urgent health issues. This part of my background has motivated me to pursue a double major in Global Health and Biology. Through science I hope to identify and find solutions for healthcare challenges in under-represented communities.

Now a junior at Duke, that passion for research and strengthening healthcare systems has only grown stronger. At Duke I work in Dr. Tighe’s lab where we identify susceptibility factors and candidate pathways relevant to host biological responses to environmental pollutants. I am currently looking at age as a susceptibility factor to lung injury due to various ozone levels. The summer after my first year I was selected as Huang Fellow, which has students look at their research through a societal lense and how bench work or policy work translates into the real world. The summer between my sophomore and junior year I worked at Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, where I worked on finding a drug target for patients with sickle cell disease. Alongside this lab work, I also worked with their global health department to increase access to medications for sickle cell disease in Ghana.

The work with Novartis confirmed my aspirations for a PhD in cellular and molecular biology and hopefully getting a masters in global health or public health along the way. My ultimate goal is to return to the pharmaceutical industry and work in early drug discovery and increasing access in LMICs.

Outside of the lab and academic courses, I am program director for Project Citizen during O-week and student director for SPIRE Fellows. I am also part of BIOSTEMs and club Taekwondo on campus!

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I love that SPIRE provides mentorship and a multitude of beneficial resources for people in STEM. I came into Duke ready to form a close friend group to have fun with, to study with, and support each other when things get difficult. SPIRE provides that as we are with nineteen other first year students with similar goals, aspirations, and classes.

Kaitlyn Lewars
Kaitlyn Lewars