Dr. Claire Aldridge embraces the role of mentor for young women entering a career in science, and will share her experience in the field on “Mission Unstoppable,” a CBS show hosted by “iCarly” star Miranda Cosgrove. “As a woman who’s on the backside of my career, I think it’s important to be a role model and to show a variety of different ways you can take a love of science forward and have an impact on the world,” she says.
Aldridge is an immunologist who is the associate vice president of commercialization and business development at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She helps bring UTSW research to the market, focusing on scaling and marketing discoveries to investors. Because of the business influence, her role in science is untraditional. But that is the point. “There are different paths to go forward with science that are things you wouldn’t have thought about,” she says. “I love the idea of getting people excited about science and thinking about science as a career well beyond those traditional pathways.”
Aldridge isn’t the only Dallas connection to the show. One of its producers is Lyda Hill’s Dallas-based IF/THEN Initiative, which seeks to empower women in STEM by funding and elevating female role models. The organization connects different sectors of the economy and provides better portrayals of women in STEM in media. Aldridge had previously participated in an ambassadors program with IF/THEN, which led to her role on “Mission Unstoppable.”
“They media-trained rockstar women scientists in a breadth of fields and with a breadth of backgrounds and diversity so that there would always be somebody in that field that every young woman could look to and say, ‘There’s a scientist that looks like me,'” she says.
On the show, Aldridge will discuss her early bout with COVID-19 (she was infected in March) and the importance of convalescent plasma in treating the disease before the vaccine came along. The process is more than 100 years old and was used to treat influenza during the epidemic in 1918. Aldridge donated her plasma to UTSW so that her antibodies could treat those impacted by the disease. She will discuss the body’s ability to fight illness and why COVID-19 is unlike any other disease society has faced.
Though other treatments and the vaccine have decreased the need for convalescent plasma, it still plays a role in fighting the pandemic worldwide. ” In places where there’s no access to [treatment and the vaccine], it is still one of the only things that that you can get,” Aldridge says. “There’s still a place for it.”
The episode can be seen on CBS 11 at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 13. If you missed it, watch clips and highlights here.