I have been fascinated by science, especially biology, since my childhood and I have always wanted to play an active role in making other people’s lives better. Doing research to increase our understanding of diseases and working collaboratively to find new treatments seemed to be the way to go! My PhD in the Translational Neuroscience group at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) focuses on cells from Parkinson’s disease patients carrying a mutation in a specific gene. This gene is linked to the mitochondria, parts of the cell known as its powerhouses as they produce energy.
By taking skin cells from patients and reprogramming them into neurons, we can study how the mitochondria behave in nerve cells affected by the disease. To do so, we use different methods such as measuring the amount of oxygen neurons are consuming. Understanding what is happening in those reprogrammed neurons can help us better understand what is actually happening in the neurons of the patient whose skin cells we used. The next step is to test compounds on the neurons and to find which ones could help the patient. This type of research is a steppingstone towards personalised medicine: it allows us to see how each patient is unique and how personalised treatment could help.
I am grateful for the work environment we have in Luxembourg. Close contacts with patients, clinicians and clinical researchers allow us to move faster toward improving the lives of Parkinson’s patients.