I am Samia Bachmann, currently completing Ph.D. studies in the lab of Prof. Michael Detmar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. I first became aware of the lymphatic system during my studies to become a veterinarian. However, I only began to really appreciate this multifunctional system once my Ph.D. had started.
My studies focus on how the autonomic nervous system is influencing the pumping activity of big lymphatic collectors. Using in vivo imaging we could demonstrate that the sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight and flight system, is increasing pumping activity. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system, the one active while we rest and digest, is reducing the pumping activity. Furthermore, there are differences on how a pumping vessel is reacting to a neurotransmitter released by nerves depending on the vessel’s localization. As an example, norepinephrine induces pumping in collecting lymphatic vessels associated with skin, while lacteals (small lymphatic vessels in the villi of the small intestine involved in lipid uptake) show reduced pumping. This clearly shows that the nervous system is not only influencing the pumping activity of lymphatic vessels, but also that it is a sophisticated system.
In my opinion it is of great importance to improve our understanding of the physiological processes since this will also further our grasp on pathological settings. For this purpose also events, like the Lymphatic Forum are very essential. They provide the opportunity to hear and learn about a wide variety of different aspects of the lymphatic field. This enables us researchers to share ideas, to have fruitful discussions and to learn to look at our own project from different perspectives. During this meeting you can feel that you are part of a well-connected and supporting community, unified in trying to elucidate one by one, the missing pieces of knowledge of the lymphatic world.
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.