Elham Mirfazeli

ESR 14- Activated PI3 kinase delta in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Elham completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree at University of Tehran, Iran (2018) and during this time and after that experienced working in several different areas in biology. As her master’s thesis, she worked on the regulation of Wnt pathway during the process of dopaminergic neuron differentiation. She also contributed to a project regarding the function of SOXB1 proteins in pluripotent cells during her internship at University of Edinburgh. After graduation, she collaborated for establishing an NGS-based kit for the diagnosis of hereditary breast cancer in Dr. Zeinali’s Medical Genetics Laboratory in Tehran.

Her scientific ambition, more specifically, is investigating how biological questions can be turned into computational questions and thereby addressed and further employing this approach for solving human health related problems. In this regard, she has started her work from the beginning of February 2020 in Prof. dr. Nejentsev lab at MCBI department in the O2 building of VU Medical Center. Her PhD project aims to address one of the major challenges in regard to treating systemic lupus erythematosus which is the high heterogeneity of the disease. She is studying the increased activity of PI3K delta pathway and the biomarkers that can be associated with this disturbance by analyzing the immune cell markers and transcriptome profile of these patients. Doing this research will hopefully help subgrouping lupus patients and open ways for personalized therapy of such patients as there are several FDA-approved drugs on the market that can inhibit this pathway. This puzzle solving with math but with this important implication to human health is what Elham enjoys about her work and makes her passionate about her field and what she is pursuing.

During her free time, Elham enjoys playing violin, swimming, traveling and exploring different cultures.