A Daughter Draws Energy from Dad’s Example
Jenny Kanter’s father Lee Radosevich studied energy for a living. The government scientist’s own energy may have slipped away during the 30 years he lived with MS, yet he managed to energize Jenny and her younger sister Kellie to pursue careers of service to the disability community.
Jenny, who received her PhD in microbiology and immunology at Stanford and now works at Harvard, has a National MS Society research fellowship underwritten by Society Chairman Weyman Johnson’s law firm, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.
“I was drawn to biology mostly because of his disease — the possibility of working on his disease and having my daily work be something that I was very passionate about,” she said.
Kellie, eight years younger, is studying physical therapy. In one project, she helped test a mouth-controlled kayak that allowed a quadriplegic man to get back on the water.
“It was the highlight of the decade for this guy,” Kanter said. “I get very proud of my sister when I see her do this kind of stuff.”
Kanter knew she wanted to be a scientist of some kind ever since her father brought her to work at the Sandia National Laboratory as a kid and let her draw on his whiteboard. At her wedding in 2005, to cancer researcher (now medical student) Gregg Kanter, Radosevich was able to talk shop with her Stanford mentors, Lawrence Steinman and William Robinson.
“He had a PhD himself in physics, but my dad knew the specifics of my PhD and was very interested in it,” she said.
Radosevich died four months later, after decades of fighting off one complication after another. “The entire body had had enough. We were all there and it was really good,” Kanter said. With her sister and their mother Cathy, she began participating in Challenge Walk on Cape Cod, Mass. There, her lifelong relationship with MS took on yet another dimension: meeting other members of the MS community and being able to speak to them from the dual vantage point of scientist and daughter.
“It’s nice to meet other people who are in the same situation as you,” she said.