2008 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Kim Bland, Ph.D.

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, 1990Kim Bland, Ph.D.

Kim Bland's daily work could lead to a better quality of life for millions of people. Bland is the senior director of research and development for Proteon Therapeutics, a Kansas City company that is leading the development of novel drugs for the treatment of vascular disease.

"I'm really a researcher at heart," she said. "I like the discovery part of the process."

Because Bland's family owned a newspaper business while she was growing up, some of her teachers naturally assumed she would follow suit with a career in writing. In fact, her second grade teacher at Claude Huyck Elementary School, Maxine Berry, encouraged her to write and once told her that she wanted a copy of her first novel.

But science sparked Bland's interest at the University of Kansas. As a freshman, she took a job as an office assistant for the center for biomedical research. Her work, along with a series of science classes, piqued her interest in the field and it blossomed from there.

After graduating (with highest honors) from KU with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology in 1995, she was offered a fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from UC Berkeley in 2001. She dedicated her dissertation to the people in her life who, early on, gave her reasons to believe in herself – her parents and her second grade teacher. Remembering her teacher's original request, she sent her a copy.

To help guide other aspiring scientists and researchers, Bland has been involved in a mentoring program with KU for the past 10 years. She encourages students and gives them advice based on first-hand experience.

Her advice for today's students is "keep an open mind. Look around every corner and if there is something you are interested in, explore it and ask questions."