2008 Outstanding New Investigator: Sergio Parra

I was born on January 5, 1974 in Medellín, Colombia. At age seventeen I went to the Universidad de Antioquia pursuing a career in medicine, ultimately becoming a physician. Throughout my college years I had the honor to rank in the 5th position among last year’s Colombian students of medicine, and rank in the 2nd position among 78 students of medicine. Soon after finishing my studies in medicine, I started my training as a pharmacologist. During this time, I was involved in a project evaluating the relationship between a polymorphism in the b1 adrenergic receptors and the clinical response to a selective antagonist for them. By the end of 2004 I went to Houston, Texas, to work in the Laboratory of Dr. Richard Bond, at the University of Houston, as a postdoctoral fellow. By the end of that same year Dr. Bond gave me the opportunity to visit Professor Clive Page’s Laboratory in London, United Kingdom, through the Texas / United Kingdom Collaborative Research Initiative award. That same year I was given a grant to attend to the British Pharmacological Society meeting in Newcastle. My work in Houston was about the taboo idea of using beta-blockers in asthma. There, using a mouse model of this disease and in a small clinical trial, we were able to demonstrate paradoxical and unthinkable effects of these drugs after its chronic administration in both animals and humans.

By the beginning of 2007, I got married and decided to come back to Colombia, where I got tenure as a Professor in the Universidad de Antioquia. In October 2007 the University sent me to Nagasaki, Japan, to take a course on research and development of products to meet public health needs. Now, I am involved in several projects, some of which are related with the development of drugs to treat neglected diseases in my country (i.e. Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and malaria), and some others about pharmacogenetics.