We are highlighting Emory BCDB graduate student Emma D’Agostino, who is a rare triple play in the realm of science communication.
Emma has her own blog, where she talks about what it’s like to have cystic fibrosis. Recent posts have discussed the science of the disease and how she makes complicated treatment decisions together with her doctors. She’s an advisor to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on patient safety, communicating research and including the CF community in the research process. She’s also working in biochemist Eric Ortlund’s lab on nuclear receptors in the liver:drug targets for the treatment of diabetes and intestinal diseases.
The triple play is this — on her blog, Emma has discussed how she has to deal with antibiotic resistance. Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center director David Weiss’ lab has published a lot on colistin: how it’s a last-resort drug because of side effects, and how difficult-to-detect resistance to it is spreading. Emma has some personal experience with colistin that for me, brought the issue closer.
“My bacteria have been multi-drug resistant for over a decade and until recently I only had one antibiotic I was sensitive and not allergic to (colistin) so basically we used colistin plus whatever my favorite drug was,” she wrote. “I hate colistin; it renders me pretty un-functional, with hours of dizziness each day and pretty severe numbness of the mouth that together necessitate that we back the dose off over time, which of course isn’t great if you’re trying to stay at a therapeutic dose level.”
In partnership with her doctor, she decided to try another antibiotic combination, mentioning that other choices in the past had given her seizures. In a more recent post, Emma talks about her family’s early experiences with her medical care and how her grandmother urged doctors to pay attention. We look forward to seeing more of Emma’s writing. She’s a great example of someone who both knows the science thoroughly and deals with relevant issues personally.