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Seattle Resident Evangelos Sarantinos Receives Watson Fellowship

Walla Walla, WA (May 1, 2020) – Seattle native Evangelos Sarantinos, a senior at Whitman College, will have the chance to travel the world and pursue knowledge thanks to an award from the Watson Foundation.

The biology major is a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

“The aim of the Watson is to give newly minted graduates of unusual promise a full year of discovery anywhere but in the safety of home – the U.S. There’s liberty but also responsibility in this,” said Keith Raether. “The fellowship privileges the exercise of the imagination, but it also puts self-reliance to a huge test. Can you navigate the world entirely on your own for a year? The journey is solitary and at the same time communal through the experience of new cultures.”

Sarantinos will use his Watson experience to study rare disease and caregivers around the world. His project is born out of personal experience: as a child his younger brother, Luke, was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare mucopolysaccharide (MPS) disease caused by a recessive gene.

Sarantinos, who is also a certified EMT and wildland firefighter and volunteers at Walla Walla County Fire District 4, will travel to Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Australia studying different aspects of rare disease research and caregiving.

He will work with researchers recruiting MPS patients for clinical trials, a mobile caregiving service, fundraisers and doctors. Through all the research and travel, Sarantinos has two goals: One, to spread knowledge about rare disease research and caregiving to benefit the lives of patients. The second is much more personal.

“I want to become a better caregiver for individuals like my younger brother,” he said. “That’s going to be with me for my whole life – or as long as his disease allows me to be a caregiver for him.”

Travel restrictions and concerns around COVID-19 may delay Sarantinos from embarking on his trips immediately after graduating from Whitman this May. However, he continues to remain in contact with partners in other countries and hopes to get on the road as soon as he is able to do so safely.

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Evangelos Sarantinos