Final Words: Dr. Pavel Rodriguez Worked With A Drug That Could Target Major Health Care Problems
1) Your name, program, mentor name.
Pavel Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D. Radiological Sciences, Human Imaging Track, Peter Fox, M.D. and Timothy Duong, Ph.D.
2) When did you realize you were passionate about science?
A couple of key experiences attracted me to science. During college at Washington University in St. Louis, I was exposed to science for the first time by doing benchwork in a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry lab trying to answer research questions that could aid in better understanding of inflammation in colon cancer. I then completed a year of research training fellowship sponsored Howard Hughes Medical Institute during which I was exposed to Cell and Developmental Biology in the lab of the Chair of Cell Biology at Duke University trying to understand the normal development of the esophageal epithelium using recombinant mouse models. The experiences were intellectually stimulating and required careful thinking and dedication to accomplish the work.
3) Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health Science Center, and your program.
The Department of Radiology has a very unique Combined Diagnostic Radiology Residency and Ph.D. in Radiological Sciences. I matched into this one of a kind program after medical school.
4) Tell me about your research. Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?
As part of my dissertation, I had the opportunity to work with a drug that could target major healthcare problems such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease while learning advanced neuroimaging techniques applied to animal models and clinical trials. I initially worked with Dr. Timothy Duong and his lab, and later worked with the Peter Fox lab at the Research Imaging Institute, which together led to my exposure in this area.
5) What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
Methylene blue was recently shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and there are subsequent Phase 3 clinical trials with a proprietary version of the medication. The research provides neuroimaging correlates that were linked to increased sustained attention and short-term memory in healthy human subjects after administration of methylene blue. The results provide a strong foundation for future clinical trials in healthy elderly and disease populations using multi-modal MRI based technology.
In laymen’s terms, a single oral administration of low dose of methylene blue was associated with an increase in MRI-based response in areas of the brain that control short-term memory and attention, and there was also a corresponding increase in behavioral performance during the short-term memory task (i.e. subjects had more correct responses).
The stroke studies in rats also found methylene blue efficacious in permanent and transient stroke model by slowing the progression of the stroke.
6) What was your best memory during graduate school or what did you learn?
I enjoyed participating in a variety of animal studies and clinical trials, and learning how advanced MR based neuroimaging techniques could complement the research. I also enjoyed talking with elderly subjects during the latter half of my training as I recruited them to participate in a follow up neuroimaging based clinical trial with methylene blue.
7) What do you like to do outside of graduate school?
I enjoy going dancing and to the movies with my wife and friends.
8) What’s next?
Neuroradiology Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania