When research becomes personal

| Chris Paoli

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 and, we hope, a cure. 

Anthony Getschman, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he also earned his graduate degree in biochemistry. 

Getschman received an NPF Early Career Research Grant for “Structural Investigation into the CCL20 Locked Dimer and its Therapeutic Use in Psoriatic Arthritis.” In other words, he’s studying proteins and trying to create better drugs.

CP: How would you explain your current research to a child?
AG: I’m a structural biologist. I develop 3D pictures of proteins, which are the bulldozers and the construction cranes of the body. I then take that information – knowing how the protein looks – to develop medicine to try to stop the function that’s doing something wrong in those with psoriatic disease. 

When you get a cut, you have cells that form around the injury to self-heal. When you have psoriatic disease, the cells work overtime, leading to psoriatic lesions. We are developing medication in the lab to slow cell migration and reverse their overreactive state. 

CP: When did you know you wanted to become a scientist?
AG: Probably not until later in life – when I was studying for my undergraduate degree at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I got to the higher levels of science classes and found that I really enjoyed it, especially biochemistry and the study of proteins. 

CP: What got you into the study of psoriatic disease?
AG: It was a little bit of happenstance and a little of my own intuition. My family has a history of inflammatory bowel disease. So, when I came to the Medical College of Wisconsin, I had already developed an interest in inflammatory diseases. Oddly enough, my brother was diagnosed with psoriatic disease (both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis) a few years after I started studying it. 

CP: What do you most enjoy about studying psoriatic disease?
AG: I know my efforts will have a direct impact because my work helps patients improve their lives. The personal connection to the disease also helps ground me. Attending the NPF Research Symposium in Chicago (in 2017) and interacting with patients helped me know that the work I am doing is really benefitting the lives of others. 

CP: What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?
AG: In Wisconsin where I grew up, you see a lot of dairy farms and a lot of cornfields. Even though I never had any direct exposure to it, I think I would have loved to be a farmer. Being able to put in a hard day’s work and see the results – results that help provide for people – would be incredibly rewarding.

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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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