Member Spotlight: Patricia Gama

patricia gama

University of Sao Paulo

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

What is your field of research?
Cell biology of gastrointestinal populations – stem cells dynamics, cell cycle and differentiation during postnatal development

What initially got you interested in becoming a scientist and then later specifically your field of research?
I think I decided to be a scientist when I was a child. I was very curious and loved to plan and organize “studies”, and to teach. Later on, developmental biology caught me with the first stages of embryo formation, and then cell biology came to make me think about many cellular processes. About them, the cell cycle and proliferation regulation in gastrointestinal epithelia became especially important as they were continuously exposed to food, which might be part of extrinsic control. Moreover, bringing back the thoughts about development, we showed that breastfeeding is a key period for growth, and its interruption through early weaning changes a series of elements, including the expression and signaling of TGF beta and EGFR, which in turn regulate cell cycle and differentiation. So the possibility of studying the cell and its connections to tissues, physiology and nutrition was the driver of my research field.

What is going on in your research now that you are particularly excited about?
When we study stem cell niche in the gastrointestinal epithelia, we already know where the cells are in the intestine, but in the stomach, especially in the corpus area, they remain unknown. Recent studies demonstrated that there are 2 different areas in the gland, but the identity of these cells is still not described. The thought of having something, at this point of science development, that has not been completely discovered is really thrilling.  

What is some advice that you could give to an early career scientist?
My advice to early career scientists: we have to be resilient most of the time and you have to use this resilience to open your mind, think out of the box, to try to find alternatives to jobs, positions, better publications and grants. Adding to that, we have to love what we are doing, even when we are assigned to tasks that do not seem so joyful at first.

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 am a member of the International Affairs Committee as a volunteer and I think that it is important to bring to ASCB the experience I had as a member of the board of the International Federation for Cell Biology and as the president of the Brazilian Society for Cell Biology. I think that my contribution to this  committee can help other foreigners to think about membership and the ASCB meetings.  

What are you most optimistic about when it comes to the future of science?
I think that if by one side AI can be dangerous in producing results that are not derived from experiments that were really conducted, on the other side, it can provide tools that make things easier and so, it can be helpful. It will be a challenge to balance the different abilities of AI, and to have people really well trained to use it, especially now and in the near future. But I am optimistic about AI and science progression when I think about the new generation, that one that is growing with it, and their arrival in research. I think they will have much to add to new equipments, protocols and science planning. In that way, science and AI together, perhaps, can attract more shining and bright eyes to research.

Any interesting hobbies or pastimes you enjoy that you would like to share?
I love to have time to stay with my family and friends, and to read. Because my tasks at the University demand much energy, yoga and exercising make me feel good.

About the Author:

This post was collaboratively written by several ASCB staff members.