Welcome to CienciaPR, an expert and resource network for all who are interested in science and Puerto Rico.
I moved to Puerto Rico in 1998 to set up my Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory. I am from Scotland and carried out my undergraduate training at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland followed by a Ph.D. at the University of Southampton, England. I then carried out two post-doctoral fellowships in gastrointestinal research (University of Calgary, Canada and the University of South Dakota). I currently have an active research laboratory studying the pathophysiology of ulceration and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. To date, I have trained and mentored over 70 underrepresented minority students (undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral) in my laboratory, and am actively involved in initiatives to increase the competitiveness of students graduating from our school, and Puerto Rico. I am Program Director of the MBRS-RISE graduate training program at PSMHS (funded by R25GM082406), and Co-Leader of the Training/Career Development Core of the PSM-Moffitt Cancer partnership (U54CA163071). I am also very actively involved with the American Physiological Society and the Puerto Rico Physiology Society. I have a great deal of interest in helping the next generation of scientists develop, and hope to offer a positive female role model, so that all students interested in science can fulfill their potential.
Our laboratory is interested in the pathophysiological basis and consequences of inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. We have several projects underway to try to elucidate the factors contributing to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and intestinal endometriosis. These chronic gastrointestinal disorders are characterized by abdominal pain and alterations of bowel motility. The currently accepted etiology for IBD suggests interactions between the immune system, genetic susceptibility and the environment. In Puerto Rico the incidence of IBD has risen significantly over recent years, and an additional complication is an increased risk for the development of cancer of the colon and rectum. We are assessing the impact of the gut microflora, and its manipulation, in gastrointestinal diseases, and the transition from inflammation to dysplasia in colitis-associated cancer. Endometriosis, a disorder of the female reproductive system, is caused by the presence of benign endometrial implants outside the uterus (ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines). Symptoms often mimic other intestinal disorders leading to misdiagnosis, and the cause is unknown. We are investigating the interactions between the immune and nervous systems, and the potential role of stress, in disorders such as colitis and intestinal endometriosis. We ultimately hope to develop new therapeutic approaches to treat these diseases. Our laboratory uses a variety of different experimental techniques at the whole organ, cellular and molecular level including: animal models, electrophysiological transport, motility studies, histological staining and analysis, biological assay, ELISA, cell culture and molecular biology techniques such as Real Time PCR and DHPLC. Our work is funded by NIH.
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