Innovative Research Grant
National Jewish Health

How will your research ultimately be used to change the lives of people with arthritis?
We are developing a novel system that will allow to transfer the immune system of an individual (diseased or healthy) into a mouse to study with greater depth.  Our research will potentially provide a system to understand better the disease at both the cellular and molecular level.  It will also provide a system to test therapeutics for individual intervention.

Do you have a personal connection with arthritis that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
No, I don’t have a specific personal connection, besides the fact that I belong to the human group with the highest risk for developing arthritis: women between 30 and 50 year of age.

What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The Arthritis Foundation plays a very significant role in arthritis research because it provides research funds for testing novel ideas, when there are not enough data to obtain funding from NIH.  Thus, while AF may take a risk on many projects, it also helps to develop novel ideas that may provide breakthrough in the understanding and management of arthritis.  AF also plays an important role by funding young investigators, and by providing educational support for investigators that enter the field of arthritis research.

What mysteries surrounding arthritis interest you most?

The production of autoantibodies in arthritis: where from and how they develop.  Research in mice has shown that the immune system has very safe checkpoints to eliminate autoantibodies-producing B cells.  What make these checkpoints non functional in autoimmune patients?

When you’re not in the lab or clinic, where can you most often be found?
At home.  I often carry on my work on the computer at home.  I like quiet spaces to think.  Home is also the place where I take a break from work, by cooking dinner, reading, watching a movie.

What hobby do you most enjoy?
Tennis, reading and hiking.

What non-medical book have you enjoyed lately?
My two most recent books that I enjoyed are: “The Invisible Wall”, by Harry Bernstein, and “Accordion Crimes”, by Annie Proulx.  Both books deal with belonging to a minority in the human society, the perception of difference, and the development of tolerance.

What is your favorite style of music and band or musician?
I like different styles of music and I don’t have a favorite band.  I don’t listen to music very often and I always joke about the fact that I prefer to listen to the sounds of nature than to human music.  Nevertheless, lately I have been listening to “The Swell Season” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; “August & Everything After” by Counting Crows, and “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse.

If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?
Biology was my call since I was a kid, but I could have taken different paths to fulfill my various interests in the biology field.  If I wasn’t a medical researcher I would be probably working in the animal conservation field, or I could be a veterinarian, or a surgeon, if I had chosen vet or medical school over biology in university.

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