Kathryn Ely is a structural biologist with more than 25 years experience working in academia. Her laboratory determined the three-dimensional structures of many key proteins including immunoglobulins, transcription factors, and signaling molecules, using crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and homology modeling.
The basic discovery science that came from these studies has set the framework to understand key biochemical processes and basic mechanisms in human health, including immunity, cancer and neurodegeneration. Her work has been published in more than 95 papers in first-tier scientific journals, and was presented at international conferences all over the world.
During her career, Kathryn has been a consultant for biotechnology companies, and has served on numerous review panels for the National Cancer Institute, as well as on the External Advisory boards of several academic centers. She mentored the next generation of scientists, since more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from U.S., Europe and Asia trained in her lab.
Her international interactions with scientists and students made her aware of the disparities in the quality of life in different countries, and especially in developing nations. Recognizing that the lack of clean water is a major impediment to good health, and that illiteracy and lack of technology hampers the standard of living, she began to see the need for an international program to provide water, health, and education to schools in developing nations like Uganda. In 2010, Kathryn turned her professional energy toward volunteer humanitarian outreach and established Quench and Connect to focus on these intertwined problems.