19 Dec Kelvin De Leon: A Researcher’s Perspective
TESS Research Foundation partners with many researchers in an effort to obtain a better understanding of the many different components of SLC13A5 Epilepsy. Kelvin De Leon, a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Brown University, actively contributes to translational research focused on SLC13A5 Epilepsy, with a goal to advance therapies and improve the lives of affected families.
Can you tell us a bit about your career?
I am a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Brown University, with an interest in translational neuroscience. Through my work in the laboratory of physician-scientist, Judy Liu, MD, PhD, I am exposed to the importance of biomedical research and its relevance to the clinic. The Liu lab works with animal models based on human disorders and uses these models to investigate epilepsy. It is my scientific goal to help advance the molecular research that will lead to the development of new therapies for rare genetic disorders like SLC13A5 Epilepsy.
How are you involved with TESS?
Dr. Liu introduced me to TESS Research Foundation when I began my thesis work in her lab. This connection has allowed me to present at TESS research roundtables. It is always an honor to interact with other scientists, patients, and families through TESS.
Why does your work matter to TESS families?
For my thesis project, I am investigating different mutations on the plasma membrane citrate transporter (SLC13A5) and their association with early infantile epileptic encephalopathy (EIEE). My research will contribute to the understanding of the dysfunction associated with the mutations in SLC13A5 at the behavioral, circuit, and cellular levels. My ultimate goal is to have the work that I am doing help guide therapy so there is a cure for children with SLC13A5 Epilepsy and their families.
What inspires you to do the work you are doing?
I am very dedicated to helping vulnerable populations. My motivation stems from my passion for making the biomedical field an inclusive space for everyone, whether it’s those serving or being served.
What’s the best thing about being part of this community?
The best thing about the TESS community is the collaboration between scientists, physicians, and families and our shared mission of curing a disease. Everyone’s contribution is important for finding a treatment. The bench-to-bedside process truly highlights the rigor of the translational research happening in this community.
What was it like to meet with TESS Superheroes and their families?
Dr. Liu is a principal investigator for TESS Research Foundation’s Natural History Study for SLC13A5. Through this study, I meet and interact with TESS children and families. This is one of my favorite parts of my training because I get to hear the families’ stories firsthand. I also have the privilege of informing and updating families on basic science research that is happening in the laboratory.
What does “success” look like to you, either in the lab or in the clinic?
To me, success is being able to produce rigorous and responsible research that will contribute to improving the health of patients. My research aims to address the key gaps in investigating and eventually solving the causes of a disease. My ultimate goal is to see patients and their families live a disease-free life.