“I Did Not Come From A Scientific Background…” Says Kristen

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

I’m Kristen Kindrachuk, I’m a visiting fellow
from Canada at the National Institute of Health in the National Institute of Allergy an Infectious
Disease and I study fibrosis. So most people think of fibrosis as something that happens
when they’ve got an injury, so in a joint they’ll get a build up of scar tissue and
it makes it really stiff and painful. But that happens in a lot of organs in response
to infection and allergy and that’s what we really focus on, is the fibrosis, the collagen
build up that you get in the organs that causes them to malfunction. I got involved in science
a lot earlier on before I really knew that was what I wanted to do when I left high school
I hadn’t really, I wanted to do everything but science just seemed like a natural path
and it was undergraduate when I got my degree in microbiology and zoology where one day
I was just reading the paper and there was an article about a local scientist and he
was doing field studies on hunter virus and it was like this light bulb just went off
and I was like that is what I want to do, I want to study infection diseases. I did
not come from scientific background. My mother was a schoolteacher, she taught French and
math, and I believe Latin, and my father worked in accounting. So I do a lot of pipetting,
I work in a tissue culture hood. I also do a lot of flow cytometry which we use to look
at immune cells and how that’s effecting the immune response during a fibrotic response.
Right now there’s actually no approved therapeutic for fibrosis, so what we’re really interested
in is understanding how different types of fibrosis differ. As I mentioned a lot of people
think of fibrosis in the joint, but we look at different organs, whether it’s the liver
or the lung or the heart and we’re trying to understand how these signals are directing
fibrosis and ultimately we’d like to find out how to intervene to prevent or to treat
fibrosis and in understanding how the different types are different, we might be able to find
common therapeutics for different types of diseases or distinct therapeutics that we
can use to stratify patients and develop a therapeutic to treat certain groups with one,
certain groups with another therapeutic. We’ve already got a few drugs in the pipeline that
are underdevelopment and seeking approval. So I do think we are well on our way to getting
a couple of therapeutics approved. In ten to fifteen years I would hope that we would
see more therapeutics that would cover more of a broad spectrum of disease so we could
treat people with asthma or people with inflammatory bowel disease where you see fibrosis as a
result of these diseases. So my main advice is just really find what it is that your interested
in. You might find great mentors, but you can’t just adopt their interests. It has to
be about what you want.

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