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Scholar Alum Becomes Leader in Illinois Chapter

Posted on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Kate Waimey Timmerman, Ph.D., is a passionate believer in the creativity of research—both to advance our fundamental knowledge of the universe and because it may, someday, save our lives.

Currently the director of Foundation and Corporate Relations at the University of Chicago, she supports ambitious initiatives—spanning research and practice—across the university and its affiliates, including Argonne National Labs and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In that role, she leads a team that continues to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations. Additionally, Kate is an active member of ARCS Foundation Illinois, where she is involved on the board of directors as vice president of Development. Before her time as a leader in ARCS Foundation, she received funding as an ARCS Scholar. “ARCS Foundation has been a great partner for me throughout my career. Being an ARCS Scholar as a graduate student provided me with crucial funds for my research and professional development—and the ARCS Scholar Award in particular demonstrated the personal links between the women of ARCS Foundation who supported me. As I’ve continued throughout my career, understanding the impact that philanthropy can have on scientists and science has continued to motivate my work.”

While earning her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Davis, Kate’s research focused on the molecular and cellular basis of early brain development. She specialized in a class of “axon guidance” molecules, released by the developing brain to attract or repel neurons and establish the correct wiring of the nervous system. Kate’s research on a particular class of axon guidance molecules, Semaphorins (from the Greek terms meaning sign-bearer) and their Plexin receptors, was supported by a National Institutes of Health institutional training grant, the Society for Neuroscience, and ARCS. After graduate school, Kate received a postdoctoral scholarship from the University of Chicago. In the Department of Human Genetics, Kate combined her existing understanding of early brain development with a growing expertise in genetics research. By examining brain scans of young patients with brain malformations and their corresponding genetic profiles, Kate worked to identify the genes that were disrupted in these patients and then, in mouse models, elucidate their roles in normal brain development and brain malformations.