'Go for it': Award recognition 'exhilarating and humbling,' says geneticist

Nov 13th, 2019

By Jeff Green

Dr. Terry-Lynn Young. Photo by Rich Blenkinsopp
'Go for it': Award recognition 'exhilarating and humbling,' says geneticist

What started out as a few introductory science courses has led to a lifelong fascination with genetics for Dr. Terry-Lynn Young.

They also led to international praise for her groundbreaking research in the field.

The molecular geneticist in the Faculty of Medicine has received institutional honours such as the President’s Award for Outstanding Research in 2009, as well as the coveted Governor General’s Innovation Award in 2018.

She shared that big honour with a trio of colleagues from the faculty for a discovery that is helping to save the lives of those affected by a deadly genetic disease.

Dr. Young’s advice for other faculty members thinking of applying for similar awards?

“Go for it,” she told the Gazette recently.

“Keep your energies focussed on doing your very best research and building your team of colleagues and training/mentoring your students, but also explore opportunities to apply for awards that align with your area and accomplishments, and encourage others in your team or unit to do so, as well.”

Dr. Young says it has been “an incredibly exhilarating and humbling experience,” to receive recognition for her research, which includes a Community Recognition Award for Advocacy from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

“It certainly helps to quiet any feelings of insecurity about the value of my research, or about my value as a scientist, which I experience from time-to-time. I learned early in my career that these feelings are experienced by men and women alike and are referred to as imposter syndrome,” she continued.

“So, to receive such powerful validation has been particularly helpful to squashing any lingering negative feelings that I experience.”

Genetics leader

Dr. Young has established a busy research laboratory dedicated to genetics/genomics research and has successfully secured millions of dollars in federal and provincial funding to support her research and acquire state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Over the course of nearly two decades, she has significantly contributed to the understanding of the genetic causes of blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and several neurological conditions including hearing loss.

She is also deeply interested in using this province’s unique founder population to better understand inherited and complex diseases.

Dr. Young says it is incredibly rewarding when her team has been able to help improve diagnostic tests, therapies or prognostic markers.

“I think it says that the tremendous work by me and my team in the Faculty of Medicine, and the major participation of many families in this research who continue to put their trust in our hands, is a very powerful thing indeed, and I am extremely proud our accomplishments,” she said.

“I think the recognition we have received has gone a long way to elevating Memorial’s reputation for conducting leading edge research in precision medicine,” she added.

“It has also helped set the stage for growing this area of research, and the health care and economical gains that go along with it, for our province and the world.”

This article is one of a pair of Gazette stories being published during Research Week 2019 that is aimed at encouraging more faculty nominations for prestigious institutional awards and honours, and external distinctions. If you are considering nominating a researcher – or applying yourself – and have questions about the submission process or a specific award, please contact Ellen Steinhauer or Tina Winsor.

Jeff Green is a senior communications advisor with the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at jeffg@mun.ca.

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