Our researchers are a fierce driving force behind therapeutic development and future treatment. Let’s find out what makes them so passionate about KIF1A! Each month, one of our invested members of the KIF1A Research Network will be in the spotlight. Aileen Lam, First Year Osteopathic Medical Student, is next up to share a bit about her previous work in KIF1A research and why she hopes to become a child neurologist in the future!

Aileen Lam

Aileen Lam, First Year Osteopathic Medical Student

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Western University of Health Sciences

Aileen is a University of California, Davis graduate and most recently worked in the McKenney Lab as a Junior Specialist studying how KIF1A mutations affect motor protein transport and microtubule dynamics in the cytoskeleton. Aileen served as KIF1A.ORG’s Science Communication Associate prior to being accepted into medical school at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Western University of Health Sciences.

Aileen is interested in becoming a child neurologist to continue her work with rare diseases like KAND. Check out her Research Simplified blog post here: https://www.kif1a.org/…/research-simplified-with…/

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have any superpower, I would want the ability to control time! I say this mainly because I recently started school again, and it really feels like there is not enough time in the day to do all that there is to do. I mean how amazing would it be to just pause time to study for an exam or catch up on the week’s work? Outside of using time control for academic purposes, I think this superpower would be really neat to use towards prolonging the time you have with loved ones or visiting a past memory that brought about a lot of joy. Time seems to slip away from us at times, so what better superpower to have than to control it (of course without tripping up the space-time continuum)!

When did you know you wanted to be a physician?

I was inspired at a young age from the visits to my pediatrician and that enthusiasm stuck with me throughout high school and college. This dream was further solidified throughout my college years when I immersed myself in the field, volunteering at clinics and conducting research related to neurodevelopmental diseases. Later being involved in KIF1A research and joining the amazing team at KIF1A.ORG, my path was reaffirmed, as I want nothing more than to become a physician to serve and raise awareness for those in the rare disease community, such as the KAND community.

Why were you drawn to this field and what do you love most about it?

I am drawn to the field of medicine because I find the study of human diseases and their forms of treatment to be fascinating! It’s a field that constantly grows and evolves with the progression of scientific advancements, which adds to the excitement. Being able to apply the knowledge I learn through my training to help patients in the future and work with my amazing colleagues who are similarly driven is what I love most!

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Currently, my full-time job is being a medical student and the most challenging aspect of that is efficient time management. The days are long and busy, but I know the sleepless nights will be all worth it in the end!

What development are you most excited about in terms of KIF1A research?

All the projects targeted at accelerating therapeutic discoveries for KAND are extremely exciting! If I had to pick one, I would say that I am looking forward to hearing more about the KIF1A.ORG x NeuCyte collaboration in characterizing iPSC lines, which can be used hopefully in the near future to field new potential drug therapies!

I couldn’t get through a day at work without:

Music! Music always elevates my mood in the best way possible, making the most mundane tasks enjoyable and helping motivate me to accomplish my work faster. What is life without your very own soundtrack?

I am most motivated by:

The future potential I will have to help others as a physician one day! I am also motivated by the family and friends that have inspired and supported me through thick and thin!

What do you like to do in your free time?

When I get the chance, I love to find ways to stay active! My favorite pastime of all-time is playing a good ol’ game of basketball and recently, I have come across a newfound love for the game of Spikeball. I also very much enjoy a nice hike with friends or cruising around the neighborhood on my longboard to enjoy the beautiful SoCal sunsets.