How I Spent My Summer: Parker Making an Impact Through Vaccinations

Kiara Parker at the CDC

July 8, 2016

By Sarah Russell

AUBURN, Alabama – Pharmacists make an impact in the lives of their patients every day. For most, it is through patient interactions in the local pharmacy. But, this summer, rising second-year pharmacy student Kiara Parker has been able to see the impact pharmacists make behind the scenes.

Parker, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, has been participating in the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program in Baltimore, Maryland, at Johns Hopkins University. The fellowship is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a fellow she is receiving training in research and will work with research mentors on projects related to infectious diseases treatment, prevention and epidemiology. At the end of the fellowship she will present her research to peers, mentors and other researchers.

“I’m conducting research in a laboratory at the Bloomberg School of Public Health,” Parker said. “The research focus of the lab is examining immune response differences in males and females to influenza vaccines and virus using human and mice samples. My specific research abstract will focus on human samples of pre- and post- H1N1 vaccination serum, but I will also be helping with the animal work.”

The fellowship affords Parker influence in the world she’s spent so many hours learning about. Knowing she’s making a meaningful impact, Parker says, makes her fellowship even more enjoyable.

“Knowing that women are reporting more adverse effects to influenza vaccination makes this research important,” Parker said. “If it can be figured out why this is happening, changes can be made to ensure future batches of influenza vaccines reduce the occurrences of adverse events. Eventually, it’ll be research of this nature that makes the influenza virus no longer a worry for future generations.”

Parker is thrilled by the opportunity to learn from practitioners at Johns Hopkins, Kennedy Krieger Institute and the CDC because their guidance enhances the learning experiences she began at the Harrison School of Pharmacy.

“Before beginning the fellowship I had no previous research experience,” Parker said. “Through this fellowship I am getting to learn valuable laboratory techniques, to gain scientific and technical writing experience, and to network with professionals in many different fields.”

Parker said she is thankful to have had training specifically in her area of research, influenza immunization, from her first year of school at HSOP. Having a high level of hands-on knowledge as first-year students opens the door for them early on, so students like Parker can take advantage of fellowships and internships.

“The fact that HSOP allows its first year students to become immunization certified really came in handy,” Parker said. “All the information I’ve learned about the influenza vaccine provided a great foundation of knowledge that I have expanded upon for this fellowship.”

Kiara Parker at the Kennedy Krieger Institute
Kiara Parker at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit

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Last Updated: July 8, 2016