John Pawlak, currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen Caron, received a Travel Award from LE&RN to attend the Lymphatic Forum in Austin, TX. We asked John 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?
It’s important to me to keep up with the state of the field and discuss the amazing work that is going on. It was also really good to get feedback on my research from other experts and to form new collaborations to get the most out of my work. The connections I made will be valuable as I continue my career.
What are your areas of interest in research?
My research has been at the intersection of lymphatics and the cardiovascular system. In particular, I study the spiral arteries of the placenta during pregnancy which undergo lymphatic mimicry during mid-gestation by expressing a subset of lymphatic genes. Remodeling of these vessels is important to mitigate symptoms often associated with the hypertensive disease preeclampsia. I show that this lymphatic expression helps promote remodeling of these vessels at a crucial time period.
What are your hopes and plans for your career and your research?
I hope to someday have my own lab but, for now, I would like to graduate soon and find a lab for my post-doctoral work. In particular, I am interested in continuing research in vascular biology and in building upon what I have learned so far.
Why do you believe that, in general, lymphatic research is important? What might the field accomplish within the next few years?
There are many avenues to research where I feel that the role of the lymphatic vasculature is underappreciated and many people with lymphatic diseases who are hoping for a breakthrough to help them manage their condition.