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Embracing a little help from colleagues and mentors is a necessary part of the scientific process, said Dominique Ameroso, MG21

Dominique Ameroso

Keep saying “yes” and team up with peers as often as possible, advises Dominique Ameroso.

“Get your hands in as many different projects and collaborations as possible,” said Ameroso, who received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at Tufts in February. It may be stressful at times to add more work to your plate, but the associated skills and contacts make these commitments worth it, she said.

It’s those contacts that will stay in Ameroso’s memories. “Tufts is such an open and collaborative environment. Everyone at Tufts wants to talk, to teach you techniques, and to learn from you,” she said.

Ameroso’s research focused on the identification of novel mechanisms within the brain that control food intake and metabolism, a stepping-stone to the finding potential ways to treat obesity and metabolic disorders.

“There is so much in the brain that we don't understand. So by figuring out these pathways, like obesity and food intake, it gets us closer to identifying what therapeutic strategies are out there,” she said.

She studied under Maribel Rios, associate professor of neuroscience at Tufts School of Medicine. Their shared style--intellectual, creative, and scientific--resulted in Rios becoming the support system instrumental to Ameroso’s success at GSBS.

Another reflection Ameroso shared from her time at Tufts is that students should make whatever they want happen, rather than waiting for others to help or give permission. For example, when she realized she needed to set up measurements of the electrical activity of neurons, called electrophysiological experiments, to continue her research, she found collaborators in another lab who had used the same technique. They helped train her on using the equipment, which allows scientists to keep a small piece of a mouse’s brain alive in order to conduct an experiment. Ameroso said half of her thesis data came from learning and using that technique.

Ameroso said she misses the ability to “storm” into Rios’s office to discuss ideas, as she was able to do before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Boston in March 2020. That’s when Ameroso said she also had to learn how to cope with not always being in control of everything, an understandably interesting prospect for a scientist. Though the pandemic set her thesis research back by a few months, through “excessive planning,” she made it through.

Amerosorecently finished up her work with Rios and began this month as a scientist at Cambridge-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which develops RNA interference-based therapeutics for genetic medicines, cardio-metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, and central nervous system (CNS) and ocular diseases. Ameroso will work on the CNS team in the pathology department.

Profile written by Meredith Berg.

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