Karen Berman de Ruiz, B.S.
I joined the Wythe lab in June 2015. I earned a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Biology from the UANL in San Nicolas de los Garza, N.L. Mexico (1995-2000). For the first four years after college I worked in the food industry, mainly in Quality Control and R&D. I got married in 2003 to a Scientist and became a mom in 2005, which became my full-time job for the next few years.
With my husband pursuing a career in biology, I got interested in the medical research area. So in 2010 I joined my first research lab at the University of Utah, where the main interest was graft vs host disease. The PI, Dr. Thai Cao, taught me the basics about using mice as a research model, as well as several standard biological lab techniques.
In 2011 I moved to the Huntsman Cancer Institute to work as a research technician for two different laboratories. One of them studied breast cancer tumorigenesis and metastasis. In my job for the first PI, Dr. Alana Welm, I had the responsibility of maintaining the mouse colony (including PCR-based genotyping, weaning, and husbandry) as well as purchasing, lab inventory, and other various tasks.
Soon after starting in Alana's lab, I joined a second lab, working for Dr. Sheri Holmen. There I had very similar responsibilities, but the main research interest was in melanoma and glioma.
In 2012 my husband and I moved to Portugal, a big change in our lives and one of the greatest decisions we've made! There I worked at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, one of the best research institutes in that country. I was hired to manage animal facility activities, which included murine in vitro fertilization, cryopreservation of sperm and embryos, specialized techniques for maintaining a germ-free facility and extensive microbiological testing of our animals, as well as introduction of new mouse strains via cesarean-section. Furthermore, I was tasked with coordinating experiments and developing the logistics for investigators at the IGC's interactions with the European Mouse Mutant Archives (EMMA). At the IGC I also started the new gnotobiology experimental area, designed and validated protocols, and established best operating principals for our investigators. It was definitely a great learning opportunity, both professionally and personally.
In 2014 we moved back to Texas, and I started working at UTMB Galveston for Dr. Kayed (Neurology), whose lab studies Alzheimer’s disease, with a focus on immunotherapy. Here, I maintained the mouse colony, and performed a lot of protein analyses, as I prepared murine and human brain samples for experiments involving standard histology and immunohistochemistry.
Over my career I have steadily grown my knowledge of mice as an animal model and I have learned new techniques in every laboratory that I have been employed in thus far. I am very excited to see what my future in the Wythe lab holds for me and to add to my experience in animal model research.