Natalie Kinloch, a new PhD alumnus, was awarded the 2023 Governor General's Gold Medal, an annual award that recognizes graduating students that have accomplished outstanding academic achievement.

New FHS PhD alumnus wins Governor General's Gold Medal

June 09, 2023

By: Geron Malbas

Natalie Kinloch, a new Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) alumnus, was awarded the 2023 Governor General's Gold Medal. The annual award recognizes graduating students that have accomplished outstanding academic achievement.

Kinloch completed her Bachelor of Sciences with Honours in 2015, jumping into her PhD studies soon after in 2016. In 2022 she defended her thesis, Addressing and Leveraging Within- and Between-host HIV genetic diversity towards ending the HIV pandemic, where she completed detailed studies of both individual and population-level HIV diversity, working to further understand the virus and find insights into how to design HIV vaccine and cure approaches.

“By identifying and understanding these challenges, and presenting some options to address them, this work helps the HIV cure field make an important step forward in accurately measuring the HIV reservoir and shows that we can overcome some of the challenges HIV diversity poses to these goals.”

Amidst her FHS experience leading studies, and being a Vanier scholar, Kinloch highlights her experience working within the HIV research field. Working with Weill Cornell Medicine’s Dr. Brad Jones, she conducted the first critical, independent assessment of a best-in-field test to measure the size of the HIV reservoir; the experience from that project lead her to serve as a subject matter expert and advisor for the implementation of this specific HIV reservoir quantification assay in an HIV cure clinical trial.

Kinloch credits her PhD supervisor and FHS professor, Dr. Zabrina Brumme, for being an exceptional mentor in an almost decade-long journey working together.

“Under her leadership, I have had the opportunity to challenge myself and learn so much while doing exciting and impactful research. Her support and encouragement and faith in me kept me going in the most difficult of times. I would not be where I am today without her guidance and support,” she said. “I also worked very closely with FHS professor Dr. Mark Brockman, who was on my supervisory committee, over these years and have benefitted greatly from his guidance, expertise, creativity and enthusiasm for science!”

With the completion of her PhD, Kinloch plans to continue working on health-related research. Currently, she is working as a Research Associate/Post-Doctoral Fellow at SFU and a Research Assistant at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“I’m preparing the last study from my thesis for publication while I find the right place for the next step in my career,” she said. “While I am a laboratory scientist, my research is very interdisciplinary in nature and I work with folks from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. I’m very grateful that FHS as a whole has helped me to develop the skills to work with, listen to and appreciate the perspectives of diverse groups of people.”