Search Close Search
Page Menu

Lupus Blog & Current Events

Interview with Danny Kwong and Fatima Qutab

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Happy 2022! We have some new team members who have joined us. Danny Kwong and Fatima Qutab are undergraduates from Massachusetts who are working to solve autoimmunity! They are inspiring examples of getting involved in efforts that you are passionate about, regardless of what stage you are at in your educational journey.

1.      Please share a little about yourself. How did you end up getting interested in autoimmunity?

Danny: I am a senior at MCPHS University on the Boston campus, and I am majoring in Premedical Health Studies and minoring in Health Psychology. I hope to attend medical school in the near future with a goal of becoming a Family Medicine physician. I am interested in autoimmunity because one of my teachers from elementary school, both she and her family, are affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which is an autoimmune disease. I saw the immense stress the disease placed upon her and her family, and I wanted to help them anyway that I could.

Fatima: I am Fatima Qutab, a senior at Clark University, majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Health, Science, and Society. After completing my Pre-med track, I hope to pursue my path towards medical school as I aspire to become a physician. I am interested in autoimmunity because my twin brother has Crohn’s disease, which is a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. It is intriguing to me as many believe it is an autoimmune disorder and/or an immune-mediated inflammatory disease, while the cause is still unknown. Also, my late grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological disorder. I have found it quite fascinating that recent studies have identified possible roles for the immune system in these diseases.

2.      Could you share a little about your research projects in the lab?

Danny: I first became involved in the lab through the SURP (Summer Undergraduate Research Program) Program here at UMass Chan Medical School. This was really my first exposure to research which was the program’s intention, provide students an opportunity into the research field. The program matched me with the Richmond lab based on my interest in autoimmunity. In the lab, I am working on the MS project. We want to find a precise and personalized approach to treating MS based off biomarkers which are proteins but are used as indicators. If a certain biomarker is elevated in the patient sample, we can prescribe a specific treatment for patients and their version of MS as opposed to a trial-and-error approach. This approach can be applied to any autoimmune disease.

Fatima: Not only have I been drawn towards understanding the various aspects of neuroscience and neurology as I have observed my Grandmother deal with Parkinson's disease, but I am also interested in learning more about medical advancements, identifying biomarkers, and improving care and treatment for others that are affected by autoimmune diseases through current research studies. This is because I find it interesting how the immune system can attack a person’s own body and there are still factors and root causes that are unknown. In 2019, I became an undergraduate intern at the Neurology department at UMass Chan Medical School, and that experience has allowed me to expand my knowledge on Multiple Sclerosis from a clinical perspective. I joined the Richmond lab in 2020 to do wet lab immunology research in order learn more about the disease process, biomarkers, and potential treatment options of Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. My main project involves working on the Multiple Sclerosis immunophenotyping datasets.

Blog Topic: