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Focus on Science: Gail Pyne-Geithman, DPhil
Published May 2011
Focus on Science is a column highlighting basic scientists at the University of Cincinnati and their latest research. To suggest a basic scientist to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail Pyne-Geithman, DPhil, is an associate professor of neurosurgery. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors in biochemistry from University College in London and her doctorate in vascular biochemistry from the University of Oxford, (Wolfson College). She is a member of the UC Neuroscience Institute and Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Team, and director of the Mayfield Neurovascular Research Laboratory in the Medical Sciences Building. She is chair of the Neurocritical Care Society Basic Science Research Committee.
Why did you come to UC, and what brought you here?
"I came here from my native England in 1999 for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the department of physiology. My doctoral work was on vascular smooth muscle signaling after subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it). I wanted to expand my vascular physiology skill set, and Professor Rick Paul (department of molecular and cellular physiology) is a world-renowned authority. I was offered seven postdoctoral positions across the U.S., Canada and Sweden.
I chose Cincinnati because of Dr. Paul and the strong interest in stroke research and subarachnoid hemorrhage and vasospasm (spasming of the blood vessels). Twelve years later, I suppose I can be officially counted as one of the ‘Brain Drains’ of scientists having left Europe for the U.S.”
Share a bit about your current research focus.
"I have stuck to my original passion, which is acute brain and vascular injury after intracranial hemorrhage. Over the years, I have expanded the array of tools with which I study these pathological processes to include biomarker analysis, proteomics (study of proteins), metallomics, cell signaling, gene array studies and cerebrospinal fluid chemistry.
Currently, much of my time is spent on the organization of the 11th International Conference on Neurovascular Events After Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, being held in Cincinnati in July (www.vasospasm11.com.)
"I am also involved in developing a new diagnostic and therapeutic approach for patients lacking the brain creatine transporter, in collaboration with Dr. Joe Clark, one of my thesis advisors in the U.K., now in the department of neurology.”
What implications might your research have on patient care?
"As a scientist faculty in a clinical department, I have made it my priority to keep my research responsive to clinical needs. I make an effort to daily interact with surgeons and physicians, as well as observe the care of the patient population affected by cerebrovascular events by attending rounds on the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit as often as I can.
"The direct implications of my research include development of fast and reliable point-of-care testing for diagnosis and therapeutic guidance, as well as developing and testing early and tailored intervention to improve the outcome and rehabilitation prospects of these patients.
I hope that my frequent interactions with residents and fellows in a mentoring and teaching capacity will improve patient care indirectly, by producing well-rounded clinical faculty who harbor an understanding and appreciation of the scientific concepts behind their patient care choices.”
Tell us a bit about yourself (hobbies/interests/etc.)
"I am incredibly fortunate to have a stay-at-home husband who takes care of our rambunctious 6-year-old. My hobbies include music—I play clarinet in the Medical Symphony Orchestra—reading and cooking.
I am able to indulge my love of music as co-director of the course ‘Introduction to the Neuroscience of Music,’ which is currently under way at the College-Conservatory of Music.
"I am also an avid gardener; when I moved here, I had to relearn all my horticultural knowledge, so I acquired a Certificate in Horticulture from the College of Applied Sciences. My son likes to help me in the yard and the kitchen.
I have several ‘crafty’ hobbies including cross-stitch embroidery, crochet, knitting and a nascent interest in quilting, encouraged by my mother-in-law. I love to take long walks with my beautiful greyhound, Indy, and take naps with our four cats.”