Interview of Maria J. Gutierrez, MD
Dr. Gutierrez, is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins. Besides allergy and immunology, she trained in pediatric rheumatology and believes the integration between these two specialties may advance the care of children with complex immune diseases. As a wife and mother, she’s become even more motivated to dedicate her career to advancing childhood health.
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Project: Antibody Secreting Cell Dysfunction and Infection Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis
Award Term: 2019 - 2022
What is the goal of your research?
My project funded by the Faculty Development Award, Antibody Secreting Cell Dysfunction and Infection Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis, focuses on investigating how dysfunction in antibody secreting cells may be responsible for overlapping autoimmune and immunodeficiency manifestations using rheumatoid arthritis as a model. In general, I am interested in understanding how diseases associated with abnormal antibody production develop and in my future research I’ll focus on those occurring during early life.
What made you decide to go into medical research?
It has always been my passion! I think as clinician-scientists we are in a unique position to integrate biology and clinical care to better understand and address clinical problems. As a pediatric immunologist, I also think that we are living in a very exciting time and have many opportunities to improve the treatment of pediatric immunologic diseases as well as childhood health in general.
What are your future research and career goals?
In the short term, I plan to continue in my path to become an independent physician-scientist. In my career, I expect to impact the clinical care of children with immunological diseases through research, education and leadership in the field.
What obstacles have you faced in getting to where you are today?
We have a very important challenge ahead of us, because as early career physician-scientists we need to quickly adapt to the profound changes occurring in the healthcare system, in medical education and in the research infrastructure. We also will need to keep up with and help lead the technology transformation that is reshaping medicine.
How has the Faculty Development Award helped you in your career?
I am really honored to receive the Faculty Development Award and it has helped me in many aspects in both my research and my career.
First off, this incredibly generous award will provide me with time and funds to advance my research and career. Secondly, the recognition, goodwill and support from all the people who want to see you succeed as a Foundation award recipient has been remarkably encouraging. Finally, this award represents a commitment for me to do my best work over not just over the next three years, but beyond in my career.
Who are your mentors?
My mentors are Robert A. Wood, MD, FAAAAI, Clifton O. Bingham, MD, and Stephen Desiderio, MD, PhD. I am also fortunate to have a great team of co-mentors at Hopkins and I am very grateful to the mentors outside my institution and those from earlier in my career who continue to advise and help me.