Boksik Cha, currently a senior researcher at the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, under the supervision of Dr. Sathish Srinivasan at OMRF, received a Travel Award from LE&RN to attend the 2019 Lymphatic Forum in Austin, TX. We asked him 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 Lymphatic Forum? Why did you feel it was important to attend?
I appreciated the Travel Award and Poster Award from LE&RN. The 2019 Forum was my first lymphatic meeting and the Forum was fascinating. I loved listening to the talks from leading experts in lymphatics and I enjoyed communicating with brilliant colleagues sharing their data, idea, and passion during the poster sessions. More importantly, it was also the first time to meet lymphedema patients and to listen to their stories, which I had never experienced in other meetings.
What are your areas of interest in research?
Using mouse genetic models, I have studied about lymphatic vascular development, especially lymphatic valves (LVs) and lymphoveouse valves (LVVs) development. I believe one of the key components of lymphatic function is LVs and I have tried to discover a novel signaling pathway that regulates LV's formation.
What are your hopes and plans for your career and your research?
I finished my postdoc at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in the United States and I just started a new job at the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, Korea. I hope to keep studying lymphatic vascular development and trying to find a novel target for lymphedema patients.
Why do you believe that, in general, lymphatic research is important? What might the field accomplish within the next few years?
The role of the lymphatic system in the human body have been underestimated and considered as a secondary vascular system that supports the cardiovascular system. Thanks for pioneers who identified lymphatic-specific markers and studied a variety of roles of lymphatic vasculature, now we open our eyes to appreciate the lymphatic system as a major player in physiological and pathological conditions. Major roles of lymphatic vasculature are fluid homeostasis, immune surveillance, and lipid absorption and dysfunction of lymphatic leads to diseases such as lymphedema, inflammation, and obesity. However, recent studies suggested that lymphatic vessels also regulate CSF homeostasis in the brain and communicate with the stem cell niche, indicating there are more important roles of the lymphatic system which we did not discover yet. Therefore, we have to plan to understand novel lymphatic functions to find new therapeutic targets for lymphatic diseases.