Brenna Kiniry
Novel therapeutics or prophylactics for fighting HIV

A Ph.D. candidate in microbiology, Brenna Kiniry received her bachelor of science in microbiology from UC Davis. She worked for a private food safety company as a supervising microbiologist before returning to academia to pursue a graduate degree. As a graduate student, Kiniry participates in the Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology program and has received certification as an emergency medical technician.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

My research involves investigating the immune responses to HIV at vulnerable sites of HIV transmission and infection, such as the gut. Critical to this research is the collaboration with clinicians with access to cohorts of HIV-infected individuals who can control HIV infection without treatment. Studying these rare ‘HIV controllers’ may offer insight into how the body properly defends itself against HIV. With no cure or vaccine currently available, the goal of this research is to aid in the development of novel therapeutics or prophylactics for fighting the disease.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

My passion lies in having a positive impact in the health and wellbeing of others. It is this passion that drove me to pursue HIV research. Although the main focus of my research is fighting HIV, it is revealing exciting insights into how the human immune system functions in the gut, which may translate into ways to combat other gut-borne pathogens and malignancies.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

As a scientist who wants to have a larger impact, I need training in how to get science-based technologies out into the world. The entrepreneurial and business skills learned through the Business Development Fellowship will help me develop and recognize science-based technologies with market potential and convert them into consumer products. Networking with business-minded students and industry members will be invaluable to my business education and forming potential future collaborations.