Profile in Research: Amy McNulty, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow Amy McNulty, PhD, of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center works in the laboratory of another Arthritis Foundation-funded researcher, Farshid Guilak, PhD. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1999 and her Doctorate degree in pathology from Duke University in 2005. Her current research with Dr. Guilak’s team includes strategies to enhance integrative repair of the meniscus (see the article summarizing her work).
Given the prevalence of arthritis do you have a personal connection that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
Many members of my family suffer from arthritis and that is one of the reasons that I and have chosen to continue work¬ing in this field after graduate school. It is truly a problem that everyone can understand and relate to. I love working on a problem that has a direct impact on so many people. I also enjoy sharing the latest findings and discoveries in the field with my family members, who are eagerly awaiting bet¬ter treatments or even a cure for arthritis.
How do you think your research will impact your community?
Our research focuses on identifying mechanisms that can enhance the repair of cartilaginous lesions. We think that our research will be able to identify clinical treatments that could enhance the healing of tears in the meniscus. Additionally, our work may impact the physical therapy regimens recom¬mended to patients following a meniscal tear.
How would you ultimately like to see your research applied?
I would like to see our research results translated into clini¬cally relevant models and ultimately tested in patients for the treatment of meniscal lesions. It would be fabulous if some of the biological and mechanical treatments that we are testing could one day be used to treat patients.
What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?
My impressions of the Arthritis Foundation are that is composed of a group of very dedicated and passionate people who are working to better the lives of those afflicted with arthritis. The people at the Arthritis Foundation that I have worked with have all been very friendly, helpful, and supportive no matter what I have needed. It is a wonderful organization and I feel honored to have been selected to be a part of the excitement and progress that is being generated by the researchers funded by the Foundation.
What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The Arthritis Foundation is crucial to the progress of arthritis research. Without the Arthritis Foundation post¬doctoral fellowship I would not have been able to work on my current research project in one of the top research labs in the country focused on cartilage tissue engineering. I am always amazed at the number of researchers and research projects that are funded by the Arthritis Foundation at every meeting and talk that I attend and by the number of scientists who started out with a training grant from the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation has really given a lot of financial support to arthritis research, enabling so much progress in this field.
Considering all the medical conditions in need of your field of research, what are the mysteries surrounding arthritis that interest you most?
Currently, I am really interested in why inflammatory cytokines are so damaging to the meniscus. It is amazing that such small concentrations for a very brief period of time can be so detrimental to the integrity and repair of meniscus tears. So how can we overcome these damaging effects following a meniscal tear and thus ultimately prevent the development of osteoarthritis?
When you’re not in the lab, where can you most often be found?
When not working in the lab, I can most often be found spending time with my infant son and husband. We love to go for stroller walks, hikes, and enjoy spending time in the gardens.
What is the favorite non-medical book you last read?
I don’t have much extra time for reading but the last good book I read was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
What is your favorite type of music and who is your favorite artist?
I like a variety of different types of music but probably my favorite artist right now is KT Tunstall.
If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?
I really can’t imagine doing anything else.
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