Julianne Golinski takes what she calls a “nerdy approach” to life. The 22-year-old, who was diagnosed with CF as an infant, is currently studying the effects traumatic brain injuries have on the mind and body. One day, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in cell biology.
Julianne Golinski doesn’t set limits. She gives 110 percent. Always.
So when the 22-year-old, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, developed CF-related diabetes earlier this year, she didn’t let the condition faze her.
“I’ve taken a very nerdy approach to it,” Julianne said. “I’ve been graphing my sugars and insulin and following trends.”
That so-called “nerdy” approach exemplifies Julianne’s zest for life and learning.
In May, she graduated from Tufts University with a degree in biopsychology. In July, she began working in a research lab at Massachusetts General Hospital where she is studying the effects traumatic brain injuries — specifically concussions — have on the mind and body.
For Julianne, the career choice is perfect.
“I have a curious mind. I love asking questions, finding facts and testing things out,” Julianne said. “I’m especially looking forward to the area of research I’m in — the brain is fascinating to study.”
Inspired by Medicine
Julianne attributes her interest in medical research to the disease she has lived with her entire life. CF is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes a buildup of mucus in the lungs and pancreas and requires very specialized care.
To stay healthy, Julianne must complete two hours of breathing treatments and take multiple medications each day.
“I have this drive in me to excel at everything I do and it’s no different with my health,” she said. “I have always been very diligent about treatments. It never occurred to me that not doing treatments was an option.”
Growing up, she had regular visits with CF doctors who encouraged her to follow her dreams.
“They were like a second set of parents to me,” Julianne explained. “From a very young age I wanted to be a doctor because I was so inspired by what my doctors did to help other people.”
Julianne graduated from Tufts University in May and is now working in a research lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. She was inspired to go into the field of medicine and research by her CF doctors. “From a very young age, I wanted to be a doctor because I was so inspired by what my doctors did to help other people,” she said.
Julianne’s interests began to shift from medicine to research when she enrolled in a volunteer research program though her high school. She was paired with a scientist at Case Western University and began assisting with neural stem cell lab work.
Her work focused on how the body uses natural stem cells to repair damage caused by multiple sclerosis. She eventually developed her own project, which received numerous accolades at science competitions in the United States and abroad.
“That was really the start of my science career,” Julianne said. “It was apparent when I was 14 that I had a knack for research. I stuck with it because I love every step of the research process from the moment I walk into the lab until the time I leave.”
Focused on the Future
Eventually, Julianne hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in cell biology. For now, though, she is focused on enjoying all of the experiences that come with a first job, like living on her own and making new friends.
Julianne also hopes to use the transition into adulthood to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis. She hasn’t told many people that she has CF; however, she believes that talking about her disease is an important step forward in life.
Julianne will take that leap this fall by helping a friend who is participating in CF Cycle for Life meet his fundraising goal by speaking to others about the disease. She hopes her story will inspire people to give — and get involved.
“Being more vocal about my CF is going to be a big change, but I’m ready for it,” Julianne said. “As someone with CF, there’s more I can do to help support the search for a cure. Getting involved with the CF Foundation’s cycle program and Great Strides is a great way to do that, and I’m really looking forward to it.”