MARIA GNARRA, New York, USA
My journey towards the United States started soon after graduating from medical school. Professor Feliciani, Chairman of the Dermatology Department at Parma University was my mentor at Catholic University of Sacred Heart (UCSC) in Rome, where he used to work before moving to Parma. At the fourth year of Medical School, I got accepted for a clerkship at Johns Hopkins University. Unfortunately, coming from a modest family, I did not have the financial possibility to accept this opportunity. Professor Feliciani, offered me to collaborate to different clinical trials in the Dermatology department, which gave me the opportunity not only to enrich my academic background, but it also provided me with the necessary finding.
For my experimental thesis, I attended the Dermatology Department of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, under Professor Harper. I was completely captured by the Pediatric Dermatology field, and in particular by vascular anomalies such us infantile hemangiomas (His) and lymphatic malformations (LMs). I realized that, as one once said, medical doctors fight the diseases in the trench every day, while researchers have the chance to end the war.
Only by deeply understanding the pathogenesis of human disease, we will in fact be able to identity new cellular and molecular markers for future more effective therapies. I therefore decided to get a PhD in Dermatology and left for Boston Children’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School with a research grant by the Society for Pediatric Dermatology.
After my research project at Harvard I moved to New York to work at Columbia University with a grant of LaRoche Posay and the Fellowship of L’Oreal-Unesco for women in science.
Now that I completed my PhD, I keep collaborating with all three Institution. Recently, we brought the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, an international multidisciplinary team of experts on complex vascular anomalies came to Parma University to teach and provide free clinics for complex cases at the First International Symposium on Hemangioma and Vascular Anomalies.
I am currently organizing, thanks to a project found by Galderma Skin Pact Excellence in Education, a course to transmit the knowledge and tools that I learned during my PhD to other clinicians in order to attract more physicians to basic and translational research.