All In a Day’s Work
Dr. Trillitye Paullin is fighting back against food insecurity while still finding time to work on improving cancer treatments and patenting cutting edge technology for mothers—she exemplifies theBob Woodruff Foundation’s enduring commitment to our veterans and our communities that together, “We’ve Got Your 6!”
Trillitye Paullin has been placed in difficult situations her entire life. As a child, she was exposed to physical and sexual abuse. During her teenage years, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and Paullin witnessed her family struggling both emotionally and financially.
“After seeing my mother go through treatment, I decided to pursue a career that would make an impact for cancer patients,” Paullin said.
Of course, pursuing the education needed to take a leadership role in the battle against cancer requires considerable financial resources. During her senior year of high school, Paullin realized “we didn’t have the funds to pay for college, so it didn’t seem like a reachable goal. I decided to join the National Guard to serve my country and get the support I needed in order to attend college.”
Paullin’s service would eventually take her to Iraq. Despite all of the misfortunes she endured growing up, she could only feel empathy when seeing how civilians were living in Iraq.
"I witnessed the true adversity in a place where poverty, hunger, and rampant disease were part of daily life," said Paullin. "After that deployment, I made it my mission to take full advantage of the freedoms afforded to me."
Paullin has made the most of her career since returning to the United States. She is realizing her dreams of improving cancer treatment and earned her Ph.D. in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology.
Paullin’s empathy expands her focus beyond just her medical career. She is a member of The Mission Continues (TMC) and works hard to address food insecurity. She has been in charge of efforts to provide food to those without homes while also leading “Operation Greenthumb,” events where she helps teach local elementary school children how to create sustainable gardens. Through “Operation Nourish,” Paullin is helping to provide essential food in locations without adequate grocery stores, also known as food deserts.
But Paullin also addresses food insecurity in an entirely different way. Doctors determined that Paullin's first child suffered from severe food allergies triggered by proteins in her breast milk. After the issue continued with her second child, Paullin decided to address the issue directly and founded Free to Feed.
"I started my company to empower women who want to continue breastfeeding, so they don't suffer the same problems my family did," said Paullin.
Paullin has patented medical technology for mothers to analyze proteins in their breast milk. Her company’s "Freedom Strips" let mothers specifically determine what could be triggering allergic responses in their children. This targeted approach is an important alternative to simply eliminating food groups at random or switching to baby formula. Paullin has been named one of the Idaho Business Review’s “Women of the Year” for 2020.