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Q&A with Dr. Sandra Steensels

Institution: Weill Cornell Medicine
Project Title: Thioesterase-mediated Control of Hepatic Lipid and Glucose Homeostasis

1. What is your first memory/experience of wanting to be involved in scientific research?

My fascination for scientific research started at an early age. My grandmother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for as long as I can remember. This impacted her quality of life since she was limited in her mobility. However, about 10-15 years ago she was able to enter a clinical trial for new anti-inflammatory drugs at the research hospital of the KU Leuven and since then she has made tremendous progress. Now she can even travel to different countries with my grandfather and explore new cultures while before she had trouble getting around the house. Witnessing her progress inspired me and made me want to impact the health of people in a similar manner as new drug developments have improved the quality of life for my grandmother.

2. How did you learn that you had won an ALF Research Award?

When I got to the lab in the morning my colleague wished me congratulations. She informed me I was selected for the ALF Research Award.

3. Describe your Research Award Project in very simple (layman) language?

I am specifically interested in characterizing a novel regulator of hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism.

4. What do you hope your research project will lead to:

a. In the short term?

My research project should identify and highlight the metabolic role of acyl-CoA thioesterase 9

b. In its overall contribution to a specific area of liver research?

I hope to identify new molecular targets that will prove useful towards our understanding and management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. How did you first hear about the ALF Research Award Program

My mentor was selected to receive the ALF award during his postdoctoral training and he encouraged me to also apply.

6. What is the one thing you would like readers to know about why liver research is so important?

Liver disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, affecting persons of all ages, but most frequently individuals in the productive years of life, between the ages of 40 and 60 years. Therefore medical research in liver disease will result in major improvements in the survival and quality-of-life of patients with liver disease.

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