BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College is pleased to congratulate Kathleen Fuchs ‘22, and Ava Lee ‘25, on their research fellowships at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), under the supervision and mentorship of NIH Senior Investigator Dr. Robert Brosh, Jr. ‘85. Brosh leads a team of students, postbaccalaureate fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and research scientists who study the molecular and genetic basis of aging and cancer.

Fuchs, who graduated from Bethany with a B.S. in biology, is currently a NIA postbaccalaureate fellow in Brosh’s lab, studying biochemical defects, underlying autoimmune disease, and mechanisms of how a healthy immune system guards against disease and infection without erroneously attacking the body’s own healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Fuchs is also working on a NIH research team to determine how certain genetic defects in enzymes that sense and process foreign nucleic acids may underlie hereditary diseases characterized by autoimmune disease.

Fuchs says she applied for the internship to expand her research skills in hopes of making a difference in scientific research, and feels she is a piece of the ‘behind the scenes experimenting that will eventually lead to the creation and improvement of medical treatments.’

“I have always been very interested in molecular and smaller-scale biological mechanisms, and the research I conduct in this internship deals heavily in that area,” says Fuchs. “This internship provides me with opportunities not only for research, but to make relationships with other incredible scientists in the field, share my findings on a larger scale, and have the chance to discover something new no matter how big or small.”

Lee is a NIA summer undergraduate student working with Brosh and collaborating scientists in the field of bioinformatics to map point mutations in the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus implicated in COVID-19. Brosh says this work is critical to understand the basis for coronavirus genome variation, which has direct consequences for human health during the pandemic and may offer strategies for anti-viral therapeutics.

“Incredible advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of human diseases have been made in recent decades. However, as we learned from COVID-19, new challenges are always rising,” says Brosh. “At NIA, we recognize that young trainees like Kathleen and Ava are a very important asset and represent an incredible resource of talent in biomedical research. With the increased number of aged individuals in society, it will be essential for the new generation of biomedical experts to become highly skilled in strategies that extend health span.”

“I believe research like this is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic because it helps us further understand the virus and therefore helps us learn how to combat it,” says Lee. “Through this internship, I have learned more about SARS-CoV-2, the secondary structures in its genome, how to code using R, and more important skills that will be useful in my future.”

Lee and Fuchs credit Bethany’s connections for their internship, and Brosh says it is connections like these that help shape our younger generation.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.