Welcome back to the Tuesday Feature. Last week we looked at one of our Alumni who did some interesting work on her placement year. This week we look at one of our research staff: Gloria Lopez-Castejon. Gloria, who originates from Spain, works on inflammation and has been in Manchester for 7 years! Without further adieu, let’s get on with it.

Could you please explain your research, for the layman, in ten sentences or less?

Gloria 01I work in inflammation. Inflammation happens when the body finds any dangers – like bacterial infections. Or for example in damage – so if you cut your fingers, you’ll have an inflammatory response – it’ll go red, it will hurt. This means a lot of immune cells go to that place to try to repair and resolve that problem. My main research aim is to try to understand better how: the process of cells moving to the site, how they behave and how inflammation works to repair damage. Inflammation is good, however it can go wrong. Some diseases, like arthritis, gout and cancer can have an inflammatory component where these cells remain in the area indefinitely – damaging the area. My aim is to stop this happening in order to reduce the inflammatory response and we will hopefully develop new drugs and treatments.

How can your research benefit the people reading this blog?

If we better understand the processes of repair, then we will be able to treat inflammatory disease. I think it’s good for the public to understand what we do in the University. I think people here inflammatory disease a lot of the time and will hear from the doctor that they have a cold or a flu. They will need an inflammatory response in this situation in order to get better. Sometimes in the news, people will hear about inflammation and get confused about whether it’s good or not.

How did you first get interested in your area of research?

I did a biochemistry degree and during that I became interested in research. At the time, I became interested in Genetics (I’m not sure why!). After finishing that, I started a PhD in fish immunology, which sounds a bit strange but it is a comparative immunology. I went into that field and then I started reading more and learning more before deciding I wanted to do something more human.

Do you have any science heroes? Who inspired you?

If I had to choose one – it’s a very difficult question. Whilst I was at University, I became quite interested who developed things like malaria vaccines. I also became interested in how Dolly was cloned and all that stuff. It really caught my attention.

Day to day, my PhD supervisor was a very good scientist and a very good person and I think these are the types of people we need more people of in science.

How has working in Manchester helped you?

I’ve been working in Manchester for 7 years now. I pretty much developed my post PhD career here. I found the people here really useful. I found that the faculty has a lot of people who are experts in different areas. Its great not only for research, but there are a number of people who can just go up to and talk to. I think if I had not been here, I would not have progressed as much in my career. My post-doc supervisor was really supportive and he pushed and helped me to apply for fellowships and develop my career.

What do you do outside of work?

Outside of work I try to enjoy myself a little bit. I like to do crafts – a lot of knitting for example. I also do a lot of dancing. I do Flamenco – I’m Spanish so it’s quite topical! I teach flamenco here in Manchester and that’s a way I try to keep in touch with my home country and at the same time, I get to exercise and share my knowledge of dance with other people!
Thank you very much for the fascinating insight into your research and life! We hope you keep up the good work both inside and outside of the lab!

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