A guest blog post by Reema Davis, Ph.D. Dr. Davis (Kathleen Caron Lab at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) received a LE&RN GRC Travel Award in 2018 to attend the Gordon Research Conference in Lymphatics held in Barga, Italy. She is very grateful to the LE&RN foundation for this recognition and honor for the 3rd time!
During my time in Kathleen’s lab I have been invested in and spearheaded multiple projects involving: 1) identifying the molecular nature driving specialized lymphatic vessels in the gut to absorb dietary fat or to help recover from intestinal inflammation, 2) delineating the genomic differences between the blood and lymphatic endothelium, 3) generating mouse models that mimic non-immune hydrops fetalis – a condition leading to excessive fetal fluid accumulation, 4) identifying drugs applicable in treating extra-cranial vascular malformations in collaboration with pediatric hematologists, and 5) aiding mathematicians to formulate the difference in blood and lymphatic patterning.
We hope that our research can provide insight into previously unknown functionally-unique aspects of lymphatic vessels. We think this work will provide novel drug targets, such as G-protein coupled receptors, that can alter the lymphatic vasculature. Our research can have an immense impact on this field and move it to the frontiers of treatment and disease management.
Most of the leading scientists in this field whose work I have grown to admire and follow were in attendance at GRC and I got to hear about their latest findings first-hand and also discuss my work with them. In addition, in the past two conferences, I have received opportunities for collaborations and received protocols directly applicable to advance my research, which has been very motivating for a young investigator like myself. In general, I've also witnessed an increase in recognition of our labs' contribution towards this field, which has been very encouraging.
The speed with which research is progressing and awareness of lymphatic vessels are growing. I can see the field making huge strides in helping clinicians understand the etiology of lymphatic diseases and provide novel therapeutic strategies.