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Elinor Karlsson, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine

        Elinor Karlsson

I’m an assistant professor of molecular medicine in the Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology Program. I started at UMassMed a year and a half ago, which makes me a new faculty member. Right now, I am focusing on building my research group (we’re up to four members now, and growing!) and starting research projects that I believe will lead to exciting biomedical discoveries in the years to come.

This includes our new project, Darwin’s Dogs, where we are working with dogs and their owners to understand how changes in DNA shape dog personality and behavior. We think this can help us understand the causes of psychiatric diseases in people. We are also investigating how our immune system protects us from infectious diseases like cholera, as a way to figure out how to design better vaccines. While these two projects sound very different, from my point of view, they are surprisingly similar. Both projects are trying to figure out how changes in DNA lead to differences in health, using new genome sequencing technology.

Working with the other members of my group, and with other groups, to figure out new ways to tackle hard scientific problems. I get really excited whenever I meet another scientist who is asking the same questions I am, but from a totally different perspective - because that means we can work together to solve really hard problems.

I can say that I chose to come to UMMS because of the openness of the community and huge diversity and strength of the research. I saw enormous potential for collaborating with fantastic people here at UMMS, and it has been even better than I hoped.