Kelsi Smith is a Canadian who is pursuing her PhD in the area of neuroscience and epidemiology at Karolinska Insitutet. In 2020, Kelsi Smith was awarded the endMS Doctoral Studentship Award funded by the MS Society of Canada. The MS Society of Canada Personnel Award program provides research support to trainees pursuing a graduate degree or postdoctoral fellowship in the area of MS to ensure that we attract and retain the next generation of talented young researchers. This year, the MS Society of Canada is proud to have funded 49 trainees, including 14 postdoctoral fellowships, 25 doctoral studentships and 10 master’s studentships – a critical talent pool of up-and-coming researchers intent on furthering their knowledge and training in MS.
Her research is focused on investigating vitamin D, skin pigmentation genes, and the timing of sun exposure in MS development and progression.
How did you become interested in MS research?
From a young age, I have been aware of what MS is, as I have a close family member with MS. As a child, my mom encouraged me to perform my scientific “experiments” in the kitchen and as I grew up I discovered I could ask the question “why?” for a living – as a scientist. I have wanted to learn the “why” of neurological diseases, and in particular, of the development of MS. This is why I am so interested in not only how the disease develops, but what causes it to change and progress.
What inspires you to continue advancing in the field?
I think the collaborative nature of science is really amazing, with people with different expertise and perspectives from all over the world working together to discover different pieces of the puzzle to understand MS. I have had the pleasure of meeting leading MS researchers from around the world through international conferences, most notably many accomplished and strong female researchers who inspire me to be better, work harder and try to find some answers for people living with MS.
What do you enjoy most about your research? What are some challenges you face?
I enjoy the challenge of it and knowing that I am contributing to the larger goal of solving MS, together with many other researchers, clinicians and people living with MS. My job is nearly never the same on a given day, which keeps things fresh and unique.
Want to learn more about this research? Hear Kelsi describe her important research below.
To see the recipients of the 2021 Personnel Awards, please visit our Funding Announcements Page.