We are proud to have Dr. Zatz featured as our “Cell Culture Hero” for the month of July. She is the professor and coordinator at the Genome Center Studies Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition to groundbreaking research, Dr. Zatz has been a champion of education and at the forefront of several key legislations that will help provide additional funding for scientific research in Latin America.

  • Designated as Research Dean for the University of Sao Paulo (2005 - 2009)
  • Brazilian Science Academy Member
  • The Academy of Science for Developing World (TWAS) Member
  • Founder and President of the Brazilian Association of Muscle Dystrophy
  • Awarded Women in Sciences by UNESCO/L'Oreal (2001)
  • Awarded the Conte Gaetano Prize for Social work
  • Actively participated in the approval for Embryonic Stem Cells Research in Brazil

When did you first get interested in science? What inspired you? 
Since I was a child I was always very curious and fascinated by great scientists discoveries, such as Pasteur or Madame Curie and their biographies. I was also very curious. My mother was always complaining because I destroyed many of my toys  trying to see how they were inside. Later on, I decided I wanted to work on researches that could help people and I was very inclined to become a medical doctor. When I was first exposed to genetics in high school I fell in love for it and decided that I wanted to be a geneticist. And since I also liked very much to interact with people I chose to pursue the career of human and medical genetics, focusing on neuromuscular disorders, where I could act on both fronts.  

What are three highlights of your scientific journey?
It is not easy to point out three highlights. I had many moments of joy and excitement during my career. Important highlights were:

  • Mapping and identifying the first gene responsible for a neuromuscular disorder
  • Receiving the international prize L’Oreal/Unesco for women in science
  • Approving the bill allowing to do research with embryonic stem-cells in Brazil
  • What is your future outlook on the next fifty years?

I am positive that genetics and stem cell researches will have a great impact on health. We will see a revolution in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine , we will be able to treat  a great number of genetic disorders that are still untreatable and will be able to expand considerably life expectancy. On the other hand scientific and technological advances will have important social and ethical implications that will have to be discussed with society.

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