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Q&A with Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos

Meet our School of Medicine researcher who is investigating brain development and injury in neonatal babies

Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos is an Assistant Professor in Physiology in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. Having graduated with a degree in Biochemistry at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2000, Dr Jimenez-Mateos undertook a PhD in the laboratory of Professor Jesus Avila at the Centro of Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa. She has previously held positions as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and an Honorary Lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). She has published widely in journals such as Nature Medicine, Brain, Cell Reports, International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology, and Molecular Neurodegeneneration. She has won several awards, including the Young Investigator Award (Neuroscience Ireland, 2014), the FENS-IBRO Award (FENS Federation, 2012), Best Paper of the Year in Ireland (2012), and the FENS-Kavli Award (FENS Federation, 2018). She was the recipient of a prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and has also been supported by the Irish Research Council and the Health Research Board, Ireland.

Since commencing her position as an Assistant Professor in Physiology in 2018, Dr Jimenez-Mateos focuses on understanding the mechanisms of hypoxic brain injury in newborn babies. Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) at birth may damage the infant’s brain and lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy. Dr Jimenez-Mateos’s group is looking at how hypoxia may be affected by inflammation, as well as researching ways of treating this condition. We spoke to Dr Jimenez-Mateos about her current research, and how her interest was sparked in this critical subject.

Tell us about your research lab and current themes of research
My research lab is focused on hypoxia-induced seizures in neonates. Hypoxia in neonates is as a consequence of a lack of global oxygen during the perinatal period. Particularly, we are focusing on the long-term neurological outcomes following hypoxia in neonates. Infants that suffer from hypoxia may develop conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning disabilities. My laboratory is investigating the plausible role of inflammation in the development of neurological impairment after hypoxia, and we are evaluating novel therapeutics approaches.

How did you become interested in this area of research?
During my PhD I worked on neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly in transgenic models of lissencephalies. As part of my post-doctoral studies, I worked on the mechanisms underlying epilepsy. I was always interested in neurodevelopment, and therefore I decided to bring my knowledge of seizures in adults to the neonatal research area. The first thing which called my attention was the lack of understanding of how hypoxic seizures in neonates triggers a cascade of events that results in adverse neuropsychological outcomes.

How do you see your work impacting health?
I hope that my work will increase our knowledge of the physiology underlying the developing brain and how insults or damage during the neonatal period triggers neuropsychological outcomes.

What is your best advice to early-stage researchers?
My advice to early-stage researcher to stay focused. Research is like running a marathon, you need to keep a steady pace so that you won’t burn out early in your career.

When you are not in the lab, where could we find you?
Probably in the playground with my children!

Learn more about the research of Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eva-Jimenez-4 and here: https://www.tcd.ie/medicine/physiology/research/researchers/jimenez.php