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Orlando Cervantes

Candidate for Council Member for Inclusion and Training, 2-3 Years – 2021 ICIS Leadership Election

Orlando Cervantes
University of Washington, Seattle, United States

I cultivated an interest in emerging infectious diseases of global health importance while conducting research in my time as an undergraduate. I started my research career in the laboratory of Dr. Rebecca Rico-Hesse at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) studying the effect viral glycosylation has on the pathogenesis of Zika virus. I continued to diversify my research background in the laboratory of Dr. Job Lopez by developing a senior honors thesis project characterizing operons of Borrelia turicatae. Both of these research experiences led to presentation opportunities at local research symposiums. By the end of my undergraduate studies, I was resolute in my intention to pursue my doctorate degree. Now after my first year of doctoral studies, I have committed to conducting my dissertation research under the mentorship of Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, investigating the effects of emerging viruses on maternal-fetal health. Currently, I am working with her to assemble a National Institutes of Health diversity grant supplement that focuses on the innate immune response to pandemic influenza infection at the maternal-fetal interface. As part of that, I expect to make contributions to our understanding of cytokine signaling in the placenta and lungs and how downstream effects of cytokine activation impact the offspring. I am willing and available to serve as a Council member for Inclusion and Diversity within the International Cytokine and Interferon Society for the two year term. It would be a privilege to further the goal of ICIS to promote equity and inclusion within the scientific community. It would be a great experience to design programming for the purpose of building a diverse community from the upcoming generation of cytokine scientists and inspiring prospective scientists through educational outreach. Currently, I am involved in a similar effort within the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington as a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Our aim is to hold the department accountable in its mission to ensure diversity in healthcare and developing a culturally competent public health workforce for the sake of better serving our communities in the United States and abroad. My work has primarily focused on recruitment of the new DEI Committee Director and student co-chairs and making sure appointees are advocates for equity and racial justice in global health.

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