Ajit Muley, currently a Ph.D. postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University (Medical Center campus), under the supervision of Dr. Carrie Shawber received a Travel Award from LE&RN to attend the 2017 Lymphatics Forum in Chicago. We asked Ajit to share his thoughts on that experience with us and to tell us a bit about his research and future plans.
What did you get out of the Forum? Why did you feel it was important to attend?
I am thankful to LE&RN for their support and for the Travel Award for the opportunity to attend the Lymphatic Forum in Chicago. The Lymphatic Forum was a great experience for me. It was an excellent opportunity to share ideas and get input from experts in the field of lymphatic biology. I was able to discuss research findings and projects with my friends and peers in the field. Lymphatic forum was a great place for networking. I developed many new connections and partnership opportunities for research and finding new cures for patients suffering from lymphatic diseases.
What are your areas of interest in research?
Lymphatic vessels are very important for our body. They are required for immunity from diseases, to keep the body tissue fluid, for salt balance, and they also absorb lipids and fats from the food we eat. I am interested in understanding the function of lymphatics in different organ systems, specially in the digestive system and the intestines. Working closely with patients suffering from lymphatic malformations and lymphedema, I am researching to find novel genetic mutation that are responsible for these pathologies.
What are your hopes and plans for your career and your research?
I want to develop a research program to develop better diagnostics and treatments for lymphatic diseases. I want to work closely with patients in a quest to make new and affordable therapies and treatment for patients suffering from lymphedema. I am passionate about the possibility that research and public engagement can eradicate lymphatic diseases. I want to develop my career as a scientist and lymphatic advocate to be a voice for these patients.
Why do you believe that, in general, lymphatic research is important? What might the field accomplish within the next few years?
Lymphatic vessels are like the big drains of the body that drain away excess fluids and help in maintaining better balance between fluids, lipids, and salts in our body. Just as a clogged drain can lead to flooding of a bathtub or kitchen sink, similarly dysfunctional lymphatics lead to pathologies like lymphedema. We need to fully understand these vessels or as I call them “the drain pipes of our body” to keep these diseases at bay and produce new therapies for the patients.
New research in the past few years has expanded our understanding about the lymphatic system greatly. We now have identified many genetic mutations that can cause lymphatic diseases. Many different groups around the world are using this information to study different drugs that can possibly cure lymphedema. Research have identified what nutrients keep the lymphatic vessels cells healthy and there are major possibilities to find nutrition-based therapy for lymphatic patients.
Together with the support of the patient community and LE&RN, we are very close to make big discoveries to treat lymphedema.
Programs such as LE&RN's Travel Awards program advance the scientific community's understanding of lymphedema and lymphatic diseases, allows for increased communication between researchers, and raises the profile of lymphatic research. These programs are only possible as a result of the generosity and dedication of LE&RN's corporate sponsors and Supporting Members. If you are committed to LE&RN's mission of fighting lymphedema and lymphatic disease through education, research, and advocacy, become a LE&RN Supporting Member today.