Dr. Shelley Ann des Etages
Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer

The Thrill of Discovery

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Dr. Shelley des Etages compares the process of discovering a successful treatment to "looking for a glint of light."

Dr. Shelley Ann des Etages

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Shelley Ann des Etages immigrated to the United States in 1986 and received her B.Sc. in Biology from Pace University and a Ph.D. at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Now a Senior Principal Scientist at Pfizer's Global Research & Development headquarters in Groton, Connecticut, Dr. des Etages seeks to understand the mechanisms of disease and cellular processes, using molecular and cellular biology. This allows her to assist in the identification of potential drug targets and biomarkers that help validate the effectiveness of new drug candidates in treating disease.

Outside of the laboratory, she regularly participates in educational outreach in the local schools through Career Day, tutoring, science demonstrations and Junior Achievement programs. Dr. des Etages is also a supporter of Writers Block Ink, an organization that helps instill drive in young people through creative pursuits. Additionally, she enjoys photography, painting, and gardening, and even plays a little piano.

Question: What has been your most exciting discovery?

Shelley des Etages:  The thing I remember the most is we did several experiments with cell lines, with blood cells taken from x-febil [ph?], we call it.  You take the blood cells out and you culture them in a dish and you work with them.  We had done four different experiments, two in vivo, two in vitro.  And I'd analyzed that data, and I'd looked in the literature and looked at genes that change when people are rejecting organs and looking at all these test molecules that we had.  And there was this convergence that there were a couple of genes that we saw in all of our models that changed.  And when I looked in the literature, they were changing in the opposite direction.  So in the transplant scenario, their expression level was going up, and in our models with our test drugs the expression level was going down.  That was a very exciting moment, because I thought, "This is really cool!  I think I have something!"  And I got on the phone, and I called my colleague over in the therapeutic area.  "I think I have something.  I've got something!  This looks very promising.  This looks really good.  We've got to test it."  And I think that was a very exciting moment.

Recorded on: 06/25/2008