Kendall Whitt grew up in a household with a father as a virologist professor and a mother as an infectious disease nurse, introducing her to the culture of laboratories and clinics early in her life. The years of following her father into work prepared her for spending her summers and winter breaks of high school working in her father’s lab. This helped Whitt realize that she wanted to pursue a career in the sciences that would allow her to make contributions and improvements to society.
Whitt earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a concentration in microbiology in 2015 from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She spent her summers during college at internship programs at various biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Regeneron. After college, Whitt worked as a research associate in the Infectious Diseases department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York for four years. During this time, she furthered her education by receiving a Master of Science in microbiology and immunology in 2018 from New York Medical College in Valhalla.
Whitt initially joined the program to help her advance her career as a research associate. However, she quickly realized that she wanted to both contribute to medical research with her own laboratory and work directly with patients, leading her to begin training to become a physician scientist. Whitt has completed two years of medical school at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.
“I am interested in evaluating the interplay between infectious agents and co-morbidities associated with the various organ systems of the human body. What role do infections play in the development of health conditions, and how do existing conditions affect the immune response to infections?” she says. “Because I am striving to be a physician scientist, I believe St. Jude is an excellent environment for me to receive my training due to the interconnectedness of the research labs and the hospital.”
Hometown: Memphis, TN