Sarah Medeiros says being chosen as a 2020 Vanier Scholar is a pivotal moment in her life.

The PhD student in medical sciences at McMaster University is one of five from the university to be selected for the honour that recognizes and supports outstanding Canadian doctoral students.

“Earning this award has been one of my proudest and humbling moments in my life,” said Medeiros.

“The people who deserve credit are my mentors and lab colleagues who have helped me on my graduate student journey and career—specifically, I am grateful for the support from my mentors Dr. Patricia Liaw, Dr. Jeff Weitz, Dr. Paul Kim, Dr. Colin Kretz, Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud, and Dr. Dhruva Dwivedi.”

Medeiros’ primary research is on the disease progression of sepsis, which is the potentially lethal response to an infection. She is exploring the relationship between immune cells and thrombosis in sepsis to determine new potential targets for drug intervention. Her supervisor is Patricia Liaw, professor of medicine and a member of the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TaARI).

“As the Canadian population ages, sepsis is expected to continue to be a major contributor to mortality and if we can find new therapies for sepsis by targeting thrombosis, we can reduce the mortality and economic burden of sepsis,” she said.

Raised in Hamilton, Medeiros currently resides in Oakville.

She earned a bachelor of medical science degree from Western University before coming to McMaster for her doctoral studies in 2017.

“When I first opened the acceptance letter, I almost couldn’t believe it! Actually, I didn’t believe it. I had to re-read the letter five times to convince my brain that it was real,” she said. “The first thing I did was call my mom and dad—my biggest cheerleaders.”

She is proud to say McMaster was her top choice.

“I chose McMaster University because it is consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world and has an outstanding international reputation as a research leader,” she said.

“Having the opportunity to learn at the TaARI, an internationally renowned state-of-the-art thrombosis facility, would allow me to gain the experience and networking I need to progress my career in the research field.”

Looking to the future, Medeiros would like to pursue a career in research and be a scientific leader in immunology and thrombosis.

“My goal is to work towards understanding disease progression to improve patient care and outcomes,” she said. “I want to inspire the next generation of scientists and make a difference in the world.”

The four other 2020 Vanier Scholars from McMaster are: Carlo Handy Charles (Faculty of Social Sciences), Emma Croll-Baehre (Faculty of Humanities), Hamza Khattak (Faculty of Science) and Moustafa Naeim (Faculty of Engineering). Michael Gallagher (Faculty of Science) has been awarded a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.