In my family, we like to joke about how we choose one of two professions – teacher or biologist. My identical twin sister chose teaching, so I chose biology.
Still, it really wasn’t a hard decision. I’ve always been fascinated by genes and how my sister and I could be so similar in appearance and health. But when my grandfather got Alzheimer’s disease, I decided I wanted to focus on uncovering genetic links to illnesses of the brain.
My grandfather was a very smart man, not only because he was an engineer, but because he knew so much about art and literature. To see Alzheimer’s disease change him, take him from us, that was so hard. We were very close.
So I did my PhD in biochemistry at Moscow State University and worked as scientist in clinical immunology at the National Research Center of Mental Health in Moscow.
But when a job with the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases in Toronto came up in 1992, I knew I wanted it. And I have to say I love this job. It’s never boring. I love the detective work that goes into finding the genes responsible for Alzheimer’s.
Today, that work is doubly important to me. My mother now has Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment and early diagnostics will come some day. I’m very sure of this because there are so many smart people working on it.
But for now, the treatment is love and it’s no small thing.
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