“This award is my validation of what I have learnt throughout my career and especially in the last two years”

Diciembre 22, 2021

“This award is my validation of what I have learnt throughout my career and especially in the last two years”

For the bioanalysis graduate, Master in Morphological Sciences and doctorate student in Biological Sciences, specialising in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Linmar Rodríguez, the award from the contest “Doctorate Thesis in the Productive Sector 2021” signify a validation for her years of studying and a challenge to begin her research, that seeks to contribute to the knowledge of RSV pathology.

Leaving behind the arepas and the tropical weather, Linmar Rodríguez arrived from Venezuela to Chile four years ago to enter the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC), after having received her degree and master’s degree in the same area in her home country. Her motivation to study science and teaching was born during her ten year work in the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Dr. Francisco J. Triana Alonso” from Universidad de Carabobo in Venezuela.

After a hasty and demanding application process, Linmar won the Fondef Award on October 20. This price gives funding for professionals in the process of obtaining a doctoral degree, to strengthen and improve their research, innovation and competitiveness skills, making them drivers of the productive sector in Chile.

“I trusted that my  proposal was viable and well-founded, and receiving the price was a pleasant surprise” – Linmar says proudly – “for me, this award is my validation of what I have learnt through my career, especially these last two years. Also, it is a challenge, because the next step is to complete this project with success, and to continue moving forward in my academic and professional life”. 

The preparation process

One of her primary support in the application process was Dr. Alexis Kalergis, who was her thesis director. Linmar arrived autonomously to Kalergis team because of her interest in the group of young investigators that worked in the laboratory he headed. 

The student highlights the Doctor’s teaching ability, expressing that “he has always had the will to open the laboratory doors to new students, he incentivates us to generate proposals and opens spaces for discussion and scientific critique, in order to develop the scientific thinking that is required in our work”. However, studying with a recognised scientist in a maximum level university, was not easy for Linmar. She states that her biggest barrier as a doctorate student, a process she started in the year 2020, was to equilibrate her family life with her studies. She says that one of her main challenges was “fulfilling my role as a mother and facing the first year and a half of my doctorate quarantined, without being able to enter the laboratory nor to university work”.

Her research

The purpose of her research is to evaluate the effects of PD-1, LAG-3 and TIM-3 on the effector functions of pulmonary CD8+ T cells during infection with human respiratory syncytial virus.

“In most respiratory infections of viral origin, there is no effective long-term immune response to protect the individual against infection,” says Linmar. This led her to study what immunological factors might influence reinfections and to notice that T-cells in certain infections deteriorate early on, and that this deterioration involves the expression of receptors that inhibit T-cell functions. This eventually led her to the following goal: to study and characterise the expression of inhibitory receptors on T cells during human Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection.

“The study of inhibitory receptors as control points could provide knowledge that could increase the effectiveness of existing treatments and contribute to the development of vaccines and new antivirals, which would mean a reduction in economic losses due to medical expenses, hospitalisations and absenteeism from work for the parents of affected children, since RSVh is the pathogen with the highest circulation detected in Chilean children during the winter season”, says the scientist. 

To Linmar, the opportunity to be able to opt for an internship abroad, which gives her the award, is an excellent opportunity for vinculating with other excellent centers. Her long term goal is to enter the academy as a teacher and investigator. She leaves as a message for doctoral students who are just starting this stage: “Be perseverant and compromise with what you are doing, the first two years of the doctoral program are demanding and you are constantly learning. Believe in you and avoid fear, because sometimes the fear of facing new challenges ends up sabotaging us”.


Graduate School

The Graduate School has the mission of ensuring the strategic and comprehensive development of the University's doctoral training. We contribute to the design and implementation of policies and mechanisms that, together with academic units, ensure the quality of UC doctoral programs, and promote the training of autonomous and excellent researchers and researchers.