Matthew Cribb, currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA, under the supervision of Dr. J. Brandon Dixon, received a Travel Award from LE&RN to attend the Lymphatic Forum in Austin, TX. We asked Matthew 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?
The Lymphatic Forum allowed me to stay up-to-date on current innovations in lymphatic-related research areas. The variety of talks from respected researchers in the field both introduced me to new topics of study and gave me ideas for my own research. It was important for me to attend this meeting in order to network with members of the lymphatic community and to formulate a clearer picture of how my research fits in the broader context of lymphatic research.
What are your areas of interest in research?
I am interested in studying the mechanisms that lead to lymphedema development. These include both immune-mediated and mechanically-mediated tissue changes that lead to swelling, tissue fibrosis, and lymphatic dysfunction. I am particularly focused on studying the role that leukotriene B4, a lipid mediator of inflammation, plays in driving these mechanisms of lymphedema development. A better understanding of lymphatic dysfunction in the context of the inflammatory response during lymphedema progression will lead to the development of more targeted and efficacious lymphedema therapies.
What are your hopes and plans for your career and your research?
I plan to pursue a career as a tenure-track professor. I would like to continue to develop my technical knowledge and skills during my last years in graduate school and as a post-doctoral researcher. Overseeing my own research as an independent investigator will allow me to pursue new research topics at the intersection of engineering and biology. I will also have the opportunity to impact the next generation of engineers and scientists through teaching. In my future research, I would like to use my knowledge of lymphatics to study a variety of chronic diseases.
Why do you believe that, in general, lymphatic research is important? What might the field accomplish within the next few years?
Lymphatics are present in almost all tissues in the body and play a major role in regulating tissue function in both health and disease. The lymphatic system has been implicated in diseases ranging from cancer to osteoarthritis. However, lymphatics are often ignored and their important function goes unrecognized. Understanding the vital role of lymphatics in a variety of diseases will lead to the development of better, more effective therapies. I think that the field will continue to reveal the ubiquitous importance of lymphatics, and we will take the first steps towards developing an effective drug for the treatment of lymphedema.