UHN Trainee Podcast: Seeds of Science

Episode 3: Christina Lam

November 17, 2022 Season 1 Episode 3
UHN Trainee Podcast: Seeds of Science
Episode 3: Christina Lam
Show Notes

In this episode, Emily chats with Christina Lam, a 4th year PhD student in Dr. Stephen Juvet’s lab at the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute.  

The episode highlights Christina’s passion for translational research, and her particular interest in immunology and harnessing regulatory T cells to improve solid organ transplant tolerance. Christina discusses her personal story of how she navigated graduate school whilst recovering from a car accident in 2019, a journey that ultimately taught her patience and self-compassion, and helped fuel her desire to improve patient healthcare. Tune in to hear Christina’s words on managing her own perfectionism and imposter syndrome during graduate school, plus her love of science communications... and romance novels!

Terms used in this episode (See ORT website for references):

Immunosuppressants - Drugs that inhibit or prevent the activity of the body’s immune system. Since the immune system can attack transplanted organs as they are not recognized by the immune system as the body’s own cells, immunosuppressants are often taken by people who have organ transplants to help lower the chance that their body will reject the transplanted organ 

Graft - In medicine, a graft is a piece of living tissue that is surgically transplanted

T-cells - A type of white blood cell that play a large role in the body’s immune response. There are different kinds of T-cells that have a variety of important functions in controlling the immune response. 

CRISPR - The acronym stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Technically, the term CRISPR refers to DNA segments that are short, regularly interspaced, and palindromic (they are the same sequence of DNA read forwards or backwards) that bacteria and archaea have inserted into their genomes that surround pieces of viral DNA from previous viral invaders called “spacer sequences”. A protein called Cas uses CRISPR sequences as a guide to recognize and destroy other viruses with similar spacer sequences. But when people mention the term CRISPR, they are often referring to the use of this CRISPR-Cas recognition system to target specific parts of DNA; the function of Cas protein can be altered to do other tasks at the CRISPR site that it recognizes. Whether the CRISPR site is used to insert other DNA, turn off genes, turn on genes, and/or other uses depends on the molecular technologies used.  

Imposter syndrome - Occurs when an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite external evidence of their competence  

UHN Trainee Podcast: Seeds of Science is proudly supported by the UHN Office of Research Trainees. For more information on the podcast and interviewees, visit our webpage: https://uhntrainees.ca/trainee/seeds-of-science-podcast/