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Research Could Lead to New Therapeutic Options for Lymphedema Patients

‘It reminds me of times of war’: Tamara Terzian, PhD, also talks about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on her native France

minute read

Written by Chris Casey on April 2, 2020

Thanks to a somewhat unexpected research journey, Tamara Terzian, PhD, and her team recently uncovered a new molecular pathway to a previously untreatable and common lymphatic disease, lymphedema. Terzian explains how the establishment of a lymphatic club on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus – involving Beth Tamburini, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and immunology, and Traci Lyons, PhD, associate professor of medicine-medical oncology – helped to advance her team’s significant findings.

“This has been a very interesting journey of not only research, but of friendship and of collaboration on our campus,” she said. Read a story about the discoveries made in their lymphatic diseases study here

In this edition of the CU Anschutz 360 podcast, Terzian also shares thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on her native France.

Read a preprint article about the study here.


Episode Transcript


Chris Casey Welcome to CU Anschutz 360, a podcast about the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. We feature faculty, staff and students, and their interesting and innovative work. My name is Chris Casey and I'm an editor in the Office of Communications. Like most of you, I'm working from home. Actually, today I'm outside on the deck. So please excuse any sound quality issues, or barking dogs, or loud cars driving by in the background. It's a new world of storytelling we're living in and we appreciate you joining us for this podcast.

Today, I'm speaking with Tamara Terzian, a dermatology professor and researcher in the School of Medicine at CU Anschutz. Dr. Terzian and her team recently uncovered a new molecular pathway to a previously untreatable and very common lymphatic disease, lymphoedema. This important discovery could lead to new therapeutic options for patients. You can read the full story about this study in the CU Anschutz' newsroom, www.cuanschutz.edu/news. Today, we'll talk about the journey Dr. Terzian and her team took to complete this study, as well as how they found key collaborators on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Then, as Dr. Terzian is originally from France, we'll talk about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected her home country, as well as her observations of the current crisis here in the United States. So, we'll start by looking back at the lymphatic diseases study. Tamara, can you explain how the discovery of some like-minded researchers at CU Anschutz helped advance your study?

Tamara Terzian Years ago, two years ago when I found out that my models, mass models, would present models of lymphoedema, I found myself a little bit isolated because I didn't know where to go from there. This was a new topic for me. I tried to research people that work on lymphatic disease on campus. I wasn't able to find clear answers at that time. Then I came to find out by just connecting with other people and trying, that there was a niche of people that were working on lymphatic disease, isolated. Dr. Beth Tamburini and Traci Lyons, they both actually, at that time, it was probably the first week where they were establishing a lymphatic club on campus.

So, they made this lymphatic club and they invited other researchers that work like me: started with something else, came into the lymphatic field, need the expertise, need the resources, need the knowhow. And we meet once every month, to discuss our research, and gain insight, and collaborate together. So a very interesting journey of like not only research, but of friendship, of collaboration. Particularly on this campus and around the world.

Chris Casey All right. That's terrific. And that is great that you were able to connect with those folks. And hopefully this will just continue to drive the momentum into your research it sounds like.

Tamara Terzian Yes. Well, this campus has something to be proud of I think.

Chris Casey Excellent. Excellent. Well, to shift gears a bit to the current public health crisis that's affecting the entire planet, we would like to just ask you a couple of questions here about the coronavirus pandemic. Your home country is France, which is one of the hardest hit countries in the pandemic. And I'm just curious, what is going through your mind, Tamara, as you follow this and hear about the devastating impact in your home country?

Tamara Terzian I think that: we're facing this together, the whole world. You know, it reminds me of times of wars, actually, where the whole world was united, fighting together. There [is] very bad news, correct? Deaths, and disease, and hardship, and financial hardship. But also there is solidarity. There is reunion. There’s families getting together. And also neighbors. Neighbors connecting, helping each other. I just read a blog this morning about how a grocery (laughs), worker was saying, "People are nice to me."

Chris Casey (Laughs)

Tamara Terzian (Laughs) I think that is amazing. It reminds me of the mindset of people, especially in France, where they're very helpful. Neighbors interact with each other and because of, I guess, the closeness, correct? And that's why Europe is having this hardship, because we are tight neighborhoods, we live close to each other. When we dine together, we don't dine alone. We have shoulder-to-shoulder tables, so it is a great way to get infected, (laughs), I guess...

Chris Casey (Laughs).

Tamara Terzian ...But it's also a great way to have friendship and people getting together. And we will pull through it, like we pulled through every war, together, united. With good plans and good government, we will pull through it.

Chris Casey Great, great. That is a very good message. And then here in the United States, I'm sure you have colleagues who are on the front lines battling the pandemic here. Can you just describe from your vantage point as a researcher working in the medical field: how can the general public, as well as just say the CU Anschutz community, support each other in their efforts to control the spread of coronavirus?

Tamara Terzian I think the example of New York and the world is something that we need to follow. It's important to be vigilant. It's important to stay home and minimize the travel time and amount of contact time for the moment. We can do great things at home and educate ourselves. Things that we weren't able to do before. So, we can, as a CU community, we can, actually rely on LinkedIn Learning. That's a new feature we have. That will help us through. We can go get our skills honed a little bit, professional skills honed a little bit better. But we also can donate. Donate from our labs, donate masks that we have in the different labs, that maybe the hospital needs.

Other organizations needs in our community: reach out to your foundation of preference and see what they need, how they have been involved in the community. What can we do to help them while staying away, minimizing the time outside? And I think donations are important at this time. So we need to get together and have a plan.

Just to give you an example, my neighbors, they got together and every house made cookies, brownies, whatever it is, and donated to the nurses, and coffee, so then the nurses that are working overtime are feeling that they've been appreciated. And also something nice that they can come back to during their break. It is good to reach out to people and we have many ways now to reach out.

Chris Casey Excellent. Those are all excellent points and I very much appreciate you giving us your time this morning. And please for one, keep up with your excellence research - and also just at the present time, stay safe and healthy right now, Tamara. Thank you very much.

Tamara Terzian Thank you very much.

 Disclaimer: Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers. It may contain minor differences from the audio, including some edits for clarity in print. Please check the recording and with the Communications team before quoting.