Affiliation(s): University of British Columbia
Dr. Quandt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and the Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia. She is a researcher and educator in addition to being the Associate Director of the UBC MS Research Group. She completed a BSc in Microbiology & Immunology and a PhD in Neuropathology (UBC) studying immune cell recruitment at the level of the blood-brain barrier(BBB). Dr. Quandt completed post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD characterizing the contributions of autoreactive T cells and disease associated HLA to disease in humanized models. She later led an Animal Models Unit where her research focused on novel therapeutics applications to impart immunological tolerance in MS and stroke. Her laboratory continues to focus on the relative contributions of inflammatory cells and mediators to disease development with particular emphasis on the following: novel therapeutics to limit cerebrovascular activation and alterations of the blood-brain barrier, and identification of cyto- and neuroprotective pathways relevant to MS and other inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Quandt was an MS Society of Canada Donald Paty Career Development Award recipient and is an MS Society Ambassador, continually working to bridge knowledge exchange between researchers, clinicians and members of the MS community. Follow Jacqueline’s work at www.quandtlab.com or on twitter @jacquiequandt.
How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?
I was fascinated that the immune system we relied on so heavily to protect us from foreign invaders (bugs) and cancer could in contrast cause so much trouble in a disorder such as MS. Knowing that so many of the same cells required to heal and repair cells and tissues were also implicated in damage over the course of MS, I became particularly interested in the balance of outcomes between damage and repair processes that immune cells and their mediators could play in MS. Our research focuses heavily on this balance and how a better understanding of this balance can enhance understanding and ultimately drive discovery in therapeutics with less risk and greater potential to protect and repair. Every single person I have met with MS describes an element of the disease that is most impactful to them, that makes the biggest difference in their day to day life, and it differs so much from person to person. This is what drives us to consider mobility, cognition, and so many other factors that influence quality of life in all aspects of the studies we do - whether it be with cells in a dish, samples from MS patients themselves, or in more complex models of MS.
What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?
The belief that we are truly making advances in our understanding of what drives MS, and how we can interfere with that process and ultimately, afford repair. The ability to be involved in the recruitment and training of bright young minds in the area of MS research is a privilege and a huge reward.
Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?
Ultimately, you never stop learning in science. To effectively address any aspect of MS related research involves a multi-disciplinary approach with expertise across a broad area of knowledge and experience. To truly understand the relevance of our research to those living with MS requires study in cells, more complex models, and in samples and tissues from MS patients themselves. To translate work effectively from the bench to the patient (and vice versa), we need to work together.
How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?
While building and maintaining a team focused in research can be a challenge with recent reductions in funding to research, we are making strides to advance our understanding of MS, and support from the MS Society of Canada is crucial for funding research and support for trainees.
Simply put, we couldn't do most of what we do without their support.
If you could ask one question to a person living with MS that would help you design your study, what would it be?
There are thousands, and I ask them all the time. The main one, is what would make the biggest difference? This isn't the question, but I will never forget meeting the spouse of a person living with MS who had been the primary care provider for years. She couldn't emphasize enough that through their entire experience with MS, disability was at the forefront, and they felt, as a couple always prepared for that, prepared for anything, they thought. But the cognitive decline that came with MS, and the "mental loss" was never something they anticipated and was the most devastating part of their illness to date. It nearly broke my heart to hear that.