Brenden Jenks found his passion for working with the underserved as an undergraduate volunteer at a mobile clinic focusing on migrant farm workers. After graduating with a degree in biology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, he spent a year volunteering at a rural clinic in a small Appalachian coal-mining community in Kentucky. This experience solidified his goal of dedicating himself to use medicine as a way of serving the needy.
As a medical student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, his scope expanded to the global scale as he began research on malaria. He spent two summers in Peru, collaborating with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit number 6 (NAMRU-6), focusing on fundamental Plasmodium vivax biology and basic vaccine research. He hopes to continue this international collaboration throughout medical school. Brenden plans to pursuit infectious disease medicine as a career, with special interest in tropical medicine and global health. He lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio where he enjoys spending time with his family and hiking with his dog, Izzy.
Project: "Anti-Duffy Binding Protein Antibodies as a Mechanism to Inhibit Plasmodium vivax isolated from Patient Samples in vitro"
June 1, 2015 - July 15, 2015
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
Receiving the Kean Fellowship has been an amazing honor and certainly one of my most proud achievements. Of course at face value, receiving the fellowship has allowed me to continue my research in malaria, and has provided a means for me to continue to build upon existing research and international collaboration. Beyond that however, the Kean Fellowship has opened a door, or rather solidified a path, to my future. Being welcomed into the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene provides an exciting feeling of belonging and future promise. As an early medical student, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of interests and career options presented to us. It is difficult to know whether the choices we make are the correct ones or the most beneficial for our future. With this fellowship and the wonderful experience it has given me, I can confidently say that I am following the right path, combining my interest in infectious disease and tropical medicine with my passion for catering to the underserved. Overall, my feelings are that of profound gratitude and excitement to continue upon this solidified path.
What do you anticipate learning?
The Kean Fellowship has allowed me to continue to build upon my lab’s research in Plasmodium vivax biology and basic vaccine development. I have learned new laboratory skills and gained new insights that will help guide future research. In addition to enhancing my basic science research foundation, my work through the fellowship in Peru has provided exciting new clinical experiences. I have been able to observe exciting cases of infectious diseases and maladies not readily observable in the United States. Beyond these academic and professional enhancements, the fellowship has allowed me to have profound cultural experiences. Learning to function on my own in another country has been a challenging, thrilling, and profoundly rewarding experience. It has exposed me to different foods, languages, customs, and world views. All of these will certainly aid in my development as an effective infectious disease physician, better able to treat and relate to a variety of patients on an international scale. Of course I hope to continue to develop in this way throughout medical school and my career, as I continue my involvement with ASTMH.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
Tropical medicine is interesting to me because it provides a way to cater to the underserved on a global scale. As a medical student, I have observed the developed world blazing ahead into a future of inarguably exciting advances in medicine. Importantly, this observation serves as a stark contrast to the developing world, still suffering from a multitude of ailments that seem to linger only as a bad memory of a difficult past in more privileged nations; a topic for colorfully gruesome stories and history books. It is my goal to dedicate my career to those still suffering from these diseases, many of which are readily treatable. I have been involved in and am interested in continuing research on malaria. I am interested in enhancing our understanding of Plasmodium parasite biology, working towards vaccine development and elimination of this burdensome disease. I am interested in infectious diseases in general, and look forward to learning more about his exciting field throughout my medical education. While I enjoy my time in the laboratory, I am also passionate about serving as an effective clinician. I hope to develop a balance between these two interests – inside and outside of the lab – as I move forward in my career in tropical medicine.