Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – CSIC – Spain/Ankar Pharma SL, Madrid , Spain
Prof. Dr. Ana Martinez
1. How did you get into the autophagy field and why is the field important to you?
My scientific goals are focused in drug discovery for different unmet human diseases. In the last 20 years I have focused my group in neurological/neurodegenerative diseases. As the main risk factors for them is aging, I have learned by the first time the autophagy term in a lecture focused on aging 5-6 years ago and since them it was something fascinating to be modulated by small molecules. But a drug discovery and/or a medicinal chemistry project is very difficult to work without the close help/collaboration of good biologists with experience in the field…..and in that moment I met Patricia Boya! Furthermore, she talked to me about mitophagy, a new word for my scientific dictionary but something known before because mitochondrial failure is a common cause/consequence of neurodegenerative diseases.
2. What is a key question in the autophagy field now? Where do you think the field is heading?
In fact, I am not an expert in autophagy, but I am very exciting with recent publications where I am learning new words as “aggrephagy”, “mitophagy”….and new key roles of autophagy in many human diseases as well as the relationship between mother and baby in the developmental stage. To decipher the role of “xxxphagy” in human health and diseases is a great challenge.
3. Should you meet any scientist, currently living or deceased, who would it be and why?
I am lucky to know and to work with Prof. José Elguero, a brilliant scientist in heterocyclic and organic chemistry. I learnt from him a lot of science but also a magic rule to avoid conflicts. Many years ago, he once told me: “Look, Ana, space, money and personnel are the three points for discussion among scientists everywhere. Try to avoid them. Work hard and be generous”. After more than thirty years on research, I can check and confirm that it works!
4. What advice do you have for early career scientists that want to enter the autophagy field?
To be innovative! It is a field of research that is almost in its early infancy. All of you are doing history in autophagy research! Join a pioneer group and look for your own field of development! There are many different ways to succeed!
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