Dr. Kleszynski Chooses Diabetes Research Post-Doc

May 4, 2019 / Alumni News / General News

[Dr. Brittany Kleszynski holding a puppy]

‘in veterinary medicine, it all fit together’

Note: This profile of 2019 veterinary graduate Dr. Brittany Kleszynski is one in a series. For others, visit Alumni News.

I have had the dream of going to vet school ever since I was a little kid.

Growing up in the small town of Bonfield, Ill., I had dogs, cats, rabbits, some exotics, even a turtle. Stray animals would come up to our house, and as a kid I would take them in or nurse them back to health. That built my love for veterinary medicine.

I really enjoy medicine and science, learning about disease processes and treatment, and providing excellent care to patients. But I have a pretty big spot in my heart for animals, so in veterinary medicine it all just kind of fit together.

‘Research Stood Out’

As a U of I undergrad, I really loved the school and the area. I stayed at Illinois for vet school and took advantage of the wide variety of opportunities at the college.

[Brittany Kleszynski and an owl]

During her first-year clinical rotation in wildlife medicine, Brittany visited the Anita Purves Nature Center and learned about exotic husbandry, performed nail trims, and got to meet one of their beloved owls.

I tried to expose myself to a lot of potential career paths, so I did research during undergrad and again during vet school and really enjoyed it. I also took part in the shelter medicine rotations on the mobile unit, visited shelters, and did spays and neuters. I shadowed in the Small Animal Clinic and Large Animal Clinic during undergrad and took part in emergency and private practice externships during vet school.

Research is what really stood out to me, just to advance medicine and build on the work of scientists before me. So that’s the direction I took.

This fall I am going on to do a postdoctoral fellowship in comparative medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. My research will focus on Type 1 diabetes. I’ll be working with islet cell regeneration and encapsulation, and I’m very excited about it.

'Brittany Kleszynski and cat]

As an undergraduate, Brittany went on a three-week service trip to Nicaragua through VIDA Volunteer. There she performed spays and neuters, educated the community on preventative medicine, and gave medical care to underprivileged communities. This trip was one she will never forget!

When I was applying for fellowship programs, I wanted to go to a medical school, for its resources and to be exposed to a different environment. Wake Forest had a unique program in comparative medicine. A few veterinary schools offer similar programs, but I have a specific interest in diabetes, and Wake Forest has a diabetes center with NIH funding. So that’s what drew me there.

PD: Entrepreneurship, Primary Care, Pathology

I structured my professional development period to be my last little indulgence, to just do some fun things and pursue my interests as well as doing things that could benefit my future.

The first week I took a business management and entrepreneurship course. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I had a bit of exposure to that growing up. I just enjoy personal finances and management in general. There’s definitely potential down the road for practice ownership or something of that nature.

The second week I did lab animal medicine, because that can really help with my career goals and give me a better foundation and more exposure in that discipline.

I ended the PD period with two weeks in primary care and two weeks in diagnostics and pathology, all here at the college.

Where do I see myself in five years? Well, my post-doctoral fellowship lasts four years, so after that I hope to either be working in industry in a lab or be working at a university with my own lab.

I’m waiting to make that final decision until I get into the post-doc and expose myself to different areas of research. So one of those two routes, I think.

As told to Jim McFarlin