April 2011

Rob Watkins

Graduate Student
Montana State University

Can you give some background on yourself and your research?
I am performing my doctoral research under the guidance of Jovanka Voyich Kane at Montana State University. My research emphasis centers on mechanisms of pathogenesis during invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus disease. More specifically, I investigate pathogen-derived mediators of host inflammation and define their influences on morbidity and mortality with special attention paid to innate immune function. Upon completing my degree, I would like to continue studying host-pathogen interactions in a postdoctoral capacity at either an academic or government-based institution. Eventually, I hope to become a principle investigator.

What did you expect from your participation in our Congressional visits program?
In visiting with legislators, I hoped to gather understanding of how budgeting and distribution of funds within federal agencies takes place. As a biomedical researcher and an end-user of government-allocated funds, I tend to underestimate the complexities of decision making behind federal spending. This opportunity granted me a general understanding of the processes behind government budget discretion as it relates to which institutions are given funding and how the dollar amounts are established. Also, I wass hoping taht my interactions with congressional members would impart a sense of value as to how biomedical research funding has allowed scientists to advance both their educational goals as well as further the knowledge of emerging diseases.



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