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Lorena Saelices Gomez, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases - Biophysics
  • Distinguished Researcher Award from UTSW President’s Research Council
  • NIH Innovator Award
Lorena Saelices Gomez
“Change starts from within.”

Early Influences

Dr. Saelices Gomez felt the resounding impact of Alzheimer’s disease on her family when her “grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than 15 years. I soon developed an interest in studying and understanding the roots of it,” she said. As a researcher, Dr. Saelices Gomez went on to “work in the field of so-called amyloid diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, that have remained difficult problems to tackle."

"I am deeply fascinated by the complexity of the challenge and committed to it.”

Contributions to STEMM

The Saelices laboratory seeks to “unveil the molecular intricacies that lead to these diseases using a state-of-the-art technology called cryogenic electron microscopy. This technique has the power to reveal atomic information of the disease agents that accumulate in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients or other tissues in related diseases,” said Dr. Saelices Gomez. Using this type of information, her laboratory "designs specific drugs and probes that we test in cultured cells, mouse models, and patient samples. We aim to eventually move these compounds into the clinic for their use in the treatment and diagnosis of aging-related maladies.”

Overcoming Challenges

“I have taken many risks in my career, starting from moving overseas three times without a clear vision of future stability. But I never truly doubted and kept moving forward,” Dr. Saelices Gomez said of the challenges she has faced. Specifically, “As a scientist, I was bullied and harassed by a person with power at my prior institution. I fell into depression and anxiety, and it took me a while to realize what the problem was and to do something about it. I went to therapy and had proper treatment."

"I was able to get out of that hole and the experience made me stronger. I learned the signs of mental health issue and the importance of listening to them and addressing the problem.”

The UT Southwestern Difference

“I love most things about my job,” Dr. Saelices Gomez said of her position at UT Southwestern, “but especially the constant intellectual stimulation, the fruitful discussions with colleagues and mentees, and the thrilling power to shape next generations and the system through mentoring and activism.” She sees her participation in the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project as evidence “of the unstoppable change of the system, led by powerful and brilliant female minds. And it is an honor to be part of it.”

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