Posted on Jun 04, 2023
Two PhDs and an MD/PhD (upper left): Sharon Schendel (left) and Janice Kurth (right) with Prof. Erica Ollmann Saphire (center), President and CEO of La Jolla Institute for Immunology; (right) Dr. Dawid Żyła, a post-doctoral fellow in the Saphire lab, receives his award from LJI Board Director Barbara Donnell 
Launching an independent academic research lab can be one of the most challenging times in a young scientist’s career.  The Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK award at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) provides funding to help young scientists collect data projects they’re passionate about. These data form the foundation for competitive applications for larger grants that young scientists need to have a firm footing in the next phase of their career.  
Every year, dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows submit proposals that are then reviewed by the SPARK panel comprising LJI scientists, leadership and the Tullie and Rickey families. The panel selects finalists, who then make a presentation to the panel about their research and their career goals. In addition to funding, the SPARK award provides recipients the opportunity to learn how to communicate their research and to lead an independent research project. The Rotary Club of Del Mar Community Service is proud to support young scientists through the SPARK award with a donation of $2,000. Current Club President (and LJI scientist) Sharon Schendel and past Club President and past District Governor Janice Kurth presented a check to LJI CEO and President Prof. Erica Ollmann Saphire at a reception for the latest SPARK awardees.