TL1 Alumnus, Dr. Kiel Telesford, awarded the K22 Career Transition Award funded through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Posted Date:
August 17, 2022

News and Congratulations

Congratulations to TL1 Alumnus Kiel Telesford, Ph.D., on being awarded the K22 Career Transition Award funded through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This award supports outstanding investigators in building key skills required for their envisioned research program as they move towards establishing an independent laboratory.

Dr. Telesford’s K22 represents the latest stage of his research journey that began years prior. During his time as an Immunology PhD student at Dartmouth, he noticed persistent trends in the literature that revealed a worrying disparity; MS manifests as a more disabling condition for African American-, as well as Latin American-identifying MS patients compared to White-identifying MS patients. The need to address this disparity, alongside his fascination with B- and T- lymphocytes, fueled Dr. Telesford’s desire to unearth contributing immunologic mechanisms.

While working as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Timothy Vartanian, Dr. Telesford sought out a CTSC TL1 fellowship as an opportunity to test hypotheses that had only since existed as reflections during graduate school.  For his TL1 fellowship, Dr. Telesford proposed and conducted an immunologic-based inquiry to better understand disparate disease severity in people of color with MS.

His published work identifies phenotype patterns pointing to differentially regulated inflammatory T cell-dependent B cell biology among a cohort of self-identified ‘Black African’, and ‘Latin American’ participants with MS relative to participants self-reporting ‘White’ ethnicity. Dr. Telesford’s K22 proposal aims to extend these findings by understanding ethnicity-, and ancestry-associated differences in the specificity and neurotoxicity of autoreactive antibodies produced by these B cells.

Guiding Dr. Telesford during his K22 are an interdisciplinary, multi-institution team of mentors: Drs. Tim Vartanian MD/PhD; Nancy Monson PhD, Virginia Pascual MD, and Olivier Elemento PhD, as well as collaborating advisors: Melissa Davis PhD; Rick Kittles PhD; Ilya Kister MD; Jeffrey Bennett MD/PhD; Ignacio Sanz MD; and Michel Nussenzweig MD/PhD. Mentors during Dr. Telesford’s TL1 fellowship include: Dr. Timothy Vartanian, and Dr. Christopher E. Mason. In addition to recognizing formal mentors and advisors, Dr. Telesford is grateful for his CTSC TL1 trainee program cohort, instructors, and support staff for providing training, perspective and insights critical to honing his ability to address clinically-relevant questions.

Dr. Kiel Telesford is currently working as an Instructor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine. He anticipates establishing an independent lab soon and looks forward to bringing forth the clinical potential of his work into the lives of MS patients, particularly the underrepresented and disenfranchised.


The CTSC TL1 Training Core Award Program supports early career development among pre- and early post-doctoral trainees by providing salary support, protected time, advanced degree training and practical skills necessary to conduct interdisciplinary Clinical and Translational Investigation in a team research environment. 


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