Monday, February 19, 2024

What Matthew Lefkowitz, a recent attendee of Iowa Wellstone's  Dystroglycanopthies Conference, gleaned from his trip and where he's headed to next.

How valuable did I find the trip to Iowa?

I always knew I wanted to come back to the field that I knew so well from having the perspective
of being a patient and an affected individual with neuromuscular disease. When I was around 12
years old, my parents, sister and I had skin biopsies taken and were studied by Dr. Campbell’s
group. A year or so later, Dr. Campbell invited us to Iowa to meet him and his team in person.
When we arrived at the University of Iowa, we were welcomed by Dr. Campbell, Dr. Mathews,
and their team. They could tell I had an interest in the lab and Dr. Campbell’s lead associate
took me on a tour of the wet lab. The setup there was incredibly state-of-the-art, and I thought it
was amazing. He brought me to a room and placed a cage with two mice inside on the bench
counter. He asked me what I saw. I hesitated and he chimed in that when one of the mice was a
single cell, my exact mutation was inserted into this mouse and that I was looking at a mouse
that had the same condition I had. It blew my mind. After that visit, it became completely clear
that I knew I wanted to be on the forefront of neuromuscular research.

What am I doing now?

I received my undergraduate degree in biological systems engineering with a specialization in
biomedical engineering and I am now a PhD candidate pursuing a PhD in molecular biology. I
am completing my dissertation thesis project in partnership with the National Institutes of Health
with a focus on the α-dystroglycanopathies pertaining to novel pre-clinical therapeutic