Member Spotlight: Damaris N. Lorenzo, PhD


University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

How long have you worked in the cell biology field?
20 years

What is your field of research?
I study how membrane adaptors and cytoskeletal proteins help localizing membrane proteins in functional microdomains to maintain homeostasis and how their dysregulation leads to disease.

Why did you decide to become a member of ASCB and how has it helped your career?
The welcoming and stimulating environment I experienced at my first ASCB meeting as a junior postdoc over ten years ago motivated to go back every year after and become a regular member. As the premier forum for cell biologists, the annual Cell Bio meeting has been a great place for me to check the latest advances within and beyond my fields, to workshop my own work, and to connect with other investigators. ASCB has directly supported me and members of lab throughout the years with travel awards and targeted professional development sessions. 

Do you volunteer with ASCB and if so what is your role and why do you think it’s important to volunteer with the association?
I recently completed a four-year term as a member of the Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC), and I currently serve in the Cell Bio Program Committee, and the Nomination Committee. I am also a mentor in the ASCB MOSAIC Program (AMP), which supports MOSAIC (Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers) K99 recipient postdoctoral fellows as they transition to their independent investigator careers.

For decades ASCB has been at the forefront of both promoting the advancement of scientific discoveries and building an inclusive community. This success has been driven in large part by generations of volunteers and the enthusiastic engagement of its members. Through our service to ASCB, we ensure that our organization continues to benefit from diverse and direct input from its membership as it navigates new challenges, expands, and evolves. Because my belonging to ASCB has enriched me professionally in numerous ways, my volunteering is also a way to for me to give back to this community.

What is going on in your research now that you are particularly excited about?
My lab recently led the discovery of a neurodevelopmental syndrome caused by variants in STPBN1, the gene that encodes βII-spectrin, a cytoskeletal protein with critical functions in neuronal biology. We are integrating cellular and animal models alongside molecular tools to dissect the mechanisms underlying the syndrome’s pathogenicity. We hope our work will help clarify disease diagnosis for new cases and guide potential therapeutic interventions to ameliorate the condition in affected individuals.  

About the Author:

This post was collaboratively written by several ASCB staff members.