Researcher tackles the science of sleep

| Steve Bieler

Who are the scientists receiving our grants? What inspires their research into psoriatic disease? In this series we profile some of the researchers who are leading the charge to find new treatments, better ways to manage psoriatic disease and milestones to a cure. 

Lourdes Pérez Chada, M.D., is a dermatologist who trained at the University of Buenos Aires and earned her master of science in clinical investigation (MMSc) from Harvard Medical School. 

In 2018, Pérez Chada, who grew up in Argentina, received an NPF Early Career Research Grant for “Validation of the PsO Sleepy-Q and the PsA Sleepy-Q: Two Questionnaires to Characterize Sleep in Patients with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.” 

She is currently psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis clinical research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

SB: When did you know you wanted to become a doctor? 
LPC: I always knew I wanted to be a physician, like my father. I looked up to him. I also wanted to get into the systemic causes behind the diagnoses. 

During my residency, my first patient had psoriasis. His quality of life was affected. It really impacted me and sparked my interest in psoriasis. By the end of my residency I was working in the psoriasis center and I was an investigator in clinical trials. 

In the trials, my role was more mechanical. I was following rules. But then I read the papers based on these trials and I wasn’t really getting it. What was the methodology? How do I understand these results? This gave me the urge to learn about research and make informed decisions. I was a clinician. I wanted to be a researcher, too. 

SB: Did you have a favorite mentor? 
LPC: The first person to get me into dermatology was a pediatric dermatologist named Carla Castro (at the University of Buenos Aires). I saw patients with her in clinic. I admired her compassion. She was a combination of very nice and very smart.

SB: How would you explain your current research to a child? 
LPC: We have a questionnaire we give patients to find out how they’re sleeping. We also give patients other questionnaires. For example, are they happy? We believe everything is related to sleep. We want to know if our questions are good questions. Patients answer in their own words. 

We want them to tell us how they think they’re doing. We don’t observe patients while they’re sleeping, but we give them a device like a watch that they wear every night for two weeks. It captures movements. From that, we can determine how many hours they sleep every night and what quality of sleep they’re getting. 

We’re building tools – in this case, questionnaires – that will help us later to help people sleep better. 

SB: How do you unwind at the end of the day? 
LPC: I like running. I wear a fitness app three times per week. I also like to lie on the couch with my husband and watch Netflix. 

SB: What would you be if you weren’t a doctor? 
LPC: I would run a coffee shop or a brunch shop. Something cozy and high quality. I love cooking and eating. I share that with my husband. We like knowing all the new spots.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Pain management guide and tracker

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Other stories in our researcher series: 

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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