Kellie Jurado on bringing more inclusion and diversity to medicine

The Presidential Assistant Professor in microbiology runs the Jurado lab, which studies emerging virus pathogenesis and immunology, while leading and supporting equity and justice initiatives.

Kellie Jurado, a Presidential Assistant Professor of Microbiology, devotes most of her time to her research, focused on how the human immune system interacts with viruses.

Kellie Jurado
Kellie Jurado, a Presidential Assistant Professor of Microbiology. (Image: Penn Medicine)

As a Latina scientist in academia, she is also devoted to building the community and infrastructure to ensure underserved and underrepresented students get the support to thrive at Penn, and beyond.

Jurado said from the time she was in elementary school her grandfather talked to her about college. Though he couldn’t read or write himself, he knew the importance and value of education. Now years later, Jurado is paying it forward—running a lab at Penn and leading and supporting equity and justice initiatives for her department. This month, Cell Mentor named her to its list of “100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in America.”

“My research program is aimed at understanding how our bodies fight off emerging viral pathogens. I am particularly interested in antiviral immune responses in the nervous system and placenta, since these are two tissue regions where collateral damage caused by an immune response aimed at ending infection can be detrimental to survival,” Jurado explains. “This has resulted in these regions being armed with intricate immune control mechanisms, and we are interested in defining these complexities.”

In the Microbiology department, Jurado aims not just to further research, but to open the field up in terms of diversity. “My postdoc pointed out some areas within our department that could be improved upon to ensure we uphold an inclusive environment, and a student reminded me of the importance of having difficult conversations about race in moving toward actionable items to mitigate inequities in STEM,” she says. “These mentee-led conversations reminded me that we all, including myself, have room for growth and a responsibility to act.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.