For Dr. Mark Sundrud '00, a path in scientific research that got its start at Concordia has led to a remarkable convergence of life and science.
Years ago, as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, Sundrud’s research centered around trying to understand how the immune system generates harmful T cells that cause common autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
Today, Sundrud works at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla. Although his work continues to center on the role of T cells in autoimmunity, his current interests have shifted toward understanding how T cells prompt chronic gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
This work has become deeply personal for Sundrud, considering his now 5-year-old daughter has a congenital gastrointestinal disease. She was born with biliary atresia, in which chronic inflammation in the liver can ultimately cause the organ to fail. As an infant, she had surgery to treat the disease and now takes a drug that prevents liver inflammation.
Sundrud shared these details while speaking at Concordia's 33rd Annual Professor R.E. Fuglestad Memorial Lecture in November.
Sundrud also expressed gratitude for a liberal arts background that emphasized creativity and self-education, and for a number of his college professors that encouraged his early scientific development.
“To this day, my successes in scientific research have been the result of my ability to think creatively about things that are unknown,” says Sundrud, “and to design innovative experiments to test hypotheses.”