Robert Whitener

Robert Whitener, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Consortium: CTAR





Where are you from originally, and where did you go to school?

I have lived in many different states around the US, but consider North Carolina home. I finished high school at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and then went on to major in BS Biochemistry and Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. From there, I worked for a few years in biopharmaceutical R&D before going to the University of Florida to earn my PhD in Medical Sciences.

►What is your current position?

Postdoctoral Fellow in Seung Kim’s lab at Stanford University.

►Why did you decide to become a researcher?

I’ve always been interested in science, and particularly medicine, from an early age. In high school, that meant I wanted to go on to become an MD. However, in my undergraduate studies, I explored the medical field and research simultaneously. I found I really enjoyed working in the lab, and that I would be able to answer the questions I had about human health as a researcher. Research is a more natural fit.

►What is the “Big Picture” of what you study?

My research interests revolve around the immune system – islet cell interaction, and how the two systems affect each other. The major driving factor is always, how do we leverage everything we know to have a meaningful impact. The immune system is a wonderfully powerful system. Can we exploit it to restore glycemic control in diabetes?

►What is your favorite aspect of your research?

I really like the fact that I’ve begun to build a broad research base encompassing immune cells, islet cells, basic science, and applied science. What drives an immune cell to interact with an islet cell? What signals driving this interaction? What happens when that interaction occurs? and all the questions in between are all extremely important and still need more studies. Finding answers to these questions all help build towards the big question.

► What do you hope to achieve with your research?

I hope to find a clinically relevant treatment.



us on our social networks.