Katlyn NorrisKatlyn NorrisKatlyn Norris, a student in the UAB School of Health Professions’ Honors Program and a senior in the B.S. in Biomedical Sciences program (BMD), was one of only five recipients of an AAI Undergraduate Award at the 2017 Autumn Immunology Conference in Chicago, IL.

The award, sponsored by the American Association of Immunologists, is a merit award delivered to the first authors of the top five undergraduate abstracts at the annual conference. Norris earned the honor for her project “Understanding the effects of obesity on immune responses in renal cell carcinoma.”

“As a BMD undergraduate student and SHP Research Honors student, I have had the opportunity to gain phenomenal research experience under Dr. Norian and her mentorship. After becoming a student in Dr. Norian’s lab, I was given the opportunity to collaborate and present on the current clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) human subject study in which we sought to investigate the systemic and local effects of obesity on immune populations and specific proteins on ccRCC tumors,” said Norris, who has been accepted to the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program and begins classes in Fall 2018. “Surprisingly, we found that obesity is not driving substantial immunosuppressive changes in subjects with ccRCC tumors as we had hypothesized. After investing in this type of cancer, the obesogenic environment, and the immunologic responses involved in cancer, I plan to continue my research in cancer, and hope to gain future experience in the clinical practice of oncology. I look forward to future career interests in oncology, pediatrics, surgery, and immunology.”

Her mentor on the project was Lyse Norian, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center. Norris’ project is related to Norian’s work on the effects of obesity on immune responses in human subjects with renal cell carcinoma.

“Katlyn has done a remarkable job of contributing to our progress on this project. She has been working closely with me to finish a manuscript detailing our findings, and it has been a pleasure to watch her knowledge and research skills grow during her time in my lab,” said Norian, who also serves as an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences.

For her win, Norris received an honorarium and was recognized at the Autumn Immunology Conference in Chicago in late 2017.

The Department of Nutrition Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences program and the Physician Assistant Studies program are all housed in the UAB School of Health Professions.