Medical research is not just a career endeavor for Dr. Ashlock, but the fruition of a childhood dream. She is currently acting chief of the Vector Development Section of the Lab of Gene Transfer within the Division of Intramural Research of the National Center of Human Genome Research (NCHGR) at the National Institutes of Health. The Division of Intramural Research of the NCHGR strives to develop technology to identify, analyze, and treat genetic diseases. Dr. Ashlock’s research focuses upon the method of gene delivery to cells in a variety of genetic diseases.
Early in her life, questionable advice dimmed her medical aspirations. During the commencement of her Purdue education, she sought instead a career in foods and nutrition. The encouragement of a biochemistry professor reawakened Dr. Ashlock’s dream by encouraging her to consider medical school. Although her academic endeavors were demanding, she continued to pursue extracurricular interests as well. She was an
active member of Delta Gamma sorority, and served as president of the Student Union Board. Dr. Ashlock remains the only woman from the School of Agriculture to earn the prestigious Flora Roberts Award, honoring the outstanding senior woman on campus.
After her Purdue years, international experience played a key role in Dr. Ashlock’s professional development. While spending a year at the University of Innsbruck in Austria on a Rotary International Fellowship, Dr. Ashlock sharpened her communication skills and broadened her awareness of the international community. Dr. Ashlock credits this experience for lending her a better understanding of the beneficiaries of medical research—people all over the world.
Returning to the United States, Dr. Ashlock attended Cornell University’s Medical School. After interning at the New York Hospital of Cornell Medical School and a residency at the Dartmouth Medical Center in Hew Hampshire, she joined the NIH in 1988 where she remains today.
For contributions to her profession and community, and for bringing distinction to her alma mater, Purdue University School of Agriculture is proud to present the Distinguished Alumna Award to Dr. Melissa Ann Ashlock.