Diedra Shorty Keller Fellow UC Davis

Diedra Shorty
Designing peptides to differentiate between types of strokes

Note: Diedra Shorty was a Keller Pathway Fellow in 2019/20. This interview was conducted in winter 2020.

Diedra Shorty earned a B.S. in chemistry from Clayton State University and her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis. Today she is a graduate student researcher in a lab focusing on discovering innovative methods of disease treatment on a nano-scale level.

In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.

Our project uses the interaction between a fluorescent peptide and a biomarker to design a point-of-care test that can be used by all levels of healthcare professionals. Specifically we are looking to design peptides that can differentiate between stroke types.

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

There is currently no method available to quickly and effectively differentiate between stroke types. This is important because the treatment of an ischemic stroke differs greatly from a hemorrhagic stroke, and the incorrect or delayed diagnosis of these stroke types can lead to death.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

As a chemical biologist, I enjoy finding ways for my compounds to interact with human biology in a beneficial manner.

What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?

The academy taught me how to think about my research as a product. It really helped me open my mind and see the bigger picture behind my research.

What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?

“It’s better to be specifically wrong than vaguely right.”

Being a chemist, this concept is still a little difficult for me to grasp.

Briefly describe your Big Bang! project/venture. How is participation in the Big Bang! workshops and competition helping you an aspiring entrepreneur?

Being involved in the Big Bang! and the fellowship program forces me to make time to think about the monetization of my research. Without being involved in these, I doubt I would put much thought into it.

The Keller Pathway Fellowship Program specifically supports women, cross-disciplinary researchers and other underrepresented university-based entrepreneurs. Do you have any insight, experience or concern you’d like to share?

The fellowship has given me the confidence to see myself as an entrepreneur. Whether I continue down this path or not, that confidence boost will have a lasting impact on how I do things.

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