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May 30, 2012

Bloomberg School Graduate Receives Fulbright Grant

Jessica Brandt

The prestigious Fulbright Program recently awarded a grant to Bloomberg School graduate Jessica Brandt to conduct research on Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects nine times as many women as it does men.

Sjögren’s syndrome causes the human immune system to turn on itself, most notably in the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. Patients with the disease develop clinical dry mouth and eyes, but also risk organ dysfunction and lymphoma. It is a disease that affects approximately 4 million Americans every year, most of them women.

“Presently, the underlying reasons for this sex difference are incompletely understood but constitute a promising area of research within the autoimmunity field,” said Brandt in her research proposal to the Fulbright Program.

To conduct her research, Brandt will travel to Italy to work with the Rheumatology Unit at Sapienza University of Rome. Her work to identify the reasons for the sex difference between male and female patients will add to the work already being done there on Sjögren’s syndrome. Results could lead to improved treatment of the disease for both men and women.

Brandt’s interest in the field of immunology stems from her work with DeLisa Fairweather, PhD, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. It was during that time that Brandt learned prevalence is higher among one gender group for many autoimmune disorders.

The U.S. Congress established the Fulbright Program in 1946 to “foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.” The program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research in foreign countries. The deadline for 2013 applications is September 24, 2012. Click here for more information about the Bloomberg School's Fulbright application process or contact Felicity Turner, Fulbright Program Advisor, at fturner@jhsph.edu.

Media contact: Tim Parsons, director of Public Affairs, at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.