The newest member of the CIRM Board is a researcher who wasn’t always sure she would have a career as a scientist. Suzanne Sandmeyer, PhD, says at the start of her career she had a lot of doubts.
“During my postdoc, I was developing the impression I would struggle to survive in my career as a scientist. I had a female mentor at the time and I shared this idea with her. She told me that was ridiculous: I was not going to starve, and I believed her. Turns out, she was right. Today, I enjoy the independence that comes with academia.”
We’re delighted she changed her mind. Dr. Sandmeyer, is now the Vice Dean for Research at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine, and has been appointed to CIRM’s Board.
She was recommended for the position by UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman who called her “an outstanding researcher who has contributed significantly to the field of molecular genetics.”
Dr. Sandmeyer said she was honored to be chosen.
“It is a privilege to be involved in this new era of stem cell research and clinical trials. We have only just begun to understand the potential of our discoveries and the impact we can have on human health by advancing stem cell therapies.”
Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., J.D., the Chair of the CIRM Board, welcomed the appointment saying:
“Dr. Sandmeyer will be a great addition to the Board. She has a distinguished career, not just as a highly regarded scientist but also as a leader in helping UC Irvine become the great research institution it is today.”
Dr. Sandmeyer’s career as a scientist had an early beginning.
“My Dad was an engineer, so science always seemed like a very natural thing to pursue. Growing up I liked to be outdoors and loved the diversity of living things, so I eventually gravitated toward biology.”
That sense of curiosity and love of biology has helped her build a bustling and productive research lab at UC Irvine. Her research focuses on molecular genetics and biochemistry of retrovirus-like elements called retrotransposons (which make up almost half the human genome but are not well understood) and metabolic engineering in yeast. Although she has had amazing success in academia, she was not always sure that this would be her path.
As a member of the CIRM Board, Dr. Sandmeyer will provide important insight and perspective into advancing stem cell therapies.
“Our country has one of the most expensive systems of medical care and yet we don’t have the longest-lived population. I want to work toward reducing the burden of medical expenses for people. I am very excited about the potential of stem cells to treat many disorders and the potential for new technologies like CRISPR to further empower that approach.”
When not making important scientific discoveries in the lab, you can find Dr. Sandmeyer pursuing one of her many and varied hobbies.
“I go through phases like everyone. There is never enough time. My favorites are astronomy, bird photography, guitar, biking, kayaking, reading and of course German shepherd dogs.”