This article is a continuation of our chat with Dr. Meagher from last week! You can read Part I here, where Dr. Meagher talks about her childhood, medical training, her family, and advice she gives to her own children. Today, we talk to Dr. Meagher about her favorite projects at Penn, translational research, and her visions for the future of biomedical science.
...marrying the concepts derived from the bench into the delivery of diagnostics or treatment approaches for improvement of patient care. That has been a real labor of love.”
When we ask her what she sees as the next big movements in scientific world, she tells us that they really go hand-in-hand with how the regulatory process is carried out. The work that has been carried out in Carl June’s lab in the immunotherapy space is one model for translational medicine. His lab developed CART immunotherapy, in which immune cells (T cells) are drawn from a patient's blood. Then, using CAR technology, the T cells are re-coded to identify and seek out cells that express proteins present on a patient's cancerous tumor. When the T cells are re-introduced into the patient's blood, they bind to the targeted cancer cells and destroy them. (Learn more here!)
“Immunotherapy really gives you a window into the potential of taking a patient and developing a treatment for that patient.” Though we hear the term “personalized medicine” constantly, this is where it is truly coming into play. “I think the paradigm of immunotherapy opens the potential for us being very creative in how we bring novel innovations into humans.”
“Maybe I’m just a ridiculous optimist, but I really do feel that I’m going to see [the success of personalized medicine] within my lifetime. I really do get the sense that we are on the cusp of making really tangible changes. And the reason we are is because regulatory bodies realize they are impeding progress. Academia is realizing that they can’t go solo. And pharma is realizing that the era of perennial blockbuster drugs is diminishing. I think that those three windows are all occurring in tandem. I really think we’re about to do some really neat things. And I love that it’s going to derive from academia.” Recently Dr. Meagher’s husband, eight years her senior, has mentioned retirement. Dr. Meagher is just so excited about what she is doing—she says, “I’ll join you on the nineteenth hole, but I’m not stopping.” Though she is proud of what she has accomplished thus far in her career, “I think I’m only half-way there.”
Maybe I’m just a ridiculous optimist, but I really do feel that I’m going to see [the success of personalized medicine] within my lifetime."
Want to hear more? Listen to Dr. Meagher talk about her daily routine and how she wears all her different hats at Penn!