Xiaolei Liu, Ph.D., works in Dr. Guillermo Oliver’s group at Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, and a LE&RN Travel Award recipient. Dr. Liu told LE&RN about her research and about attending the Gordon Research Conference (GRC).
What did you get out of the Conference? Why did you feel it was important to attend?
Thanks to the support from LE&RN, I had the chance to attend the 2016 Gordon Research Conference in Lymphatics, held in Ventura, CA. I had attended the GRC before. However, this was the most exciting and impressive experience I have ever had. This Conference gave me a chance to attend so many fascinating talks in the lymphatics field; provided me a great opportunity to present my research and get valuable feedback; and develop great connections with collegues. More importantly, for the first time, as a lymphatic researcher, I have met some lymphedema patients of different ages. Lymphedema is a life-altering disease and people who suffer look to researchers for therapeutic solutions. That is very important for me because it strengthens my faith in lymphatic research.
What are your areas of interest in research?
I am a postdoc trainee working at the Feinberg Medical School, Northwestern University, under the supervision of Dr. Guillermo Oliver. I completed my Ph.D. degree at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2014. My research is interested in how lymphatic endothelial cells organize to form lymphatic vessels and integrate to function in different organs. By using different genetic models in our lab, my research will eventually help to improve our understanding of the lymphatic development in origin, patterning, and heterogeneity.
What are your hopes and plans for your career and your research?
My goals are to develop research strategies to better understand lymphatic development, with the final career goal of becoming an independent investigator conducting lymphatic research. I hope my studies would provide research cues and tools that can be used for patients with lymphatic diseases.
Why do you believe that, in general, lymphatic research is important? What might the field accomplish within the next few years?
Lymphatic studies were not appreciated until recent decades. The lymphatic system has now been related with many diseases such as lymphedema, inflammation, tumor metastasis, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. However, many patients and non-scientists lack of the knowledge of lymphatic system. LE&RN has been doing great job on drawing people’s attention to basic knowledge of lymphatic diseases and potential therapies. With the fact that many of the genes that are critical for lymphatic develop have been discovered, the field will develop better ways for genetic diagnosis and therapy in the near future.