International Society of Hypertension

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May 2015 Spotlight of the Month

Mihail Zilbermint, MD

Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, Program on Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Building 10, NIH Clinical Research Center, Room 1-3330, MSC 1103, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA
Tel 301-496-4686
E-mail: Mihail.zilbermint@nih.gov
 

How did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease?

I was actively seeking patients with adrenal pathologies during my NIH training in Endocrinology and Metabolism. I was challenged yet fascinated by the complexity of the step-wise work-up of patients with primary aldosteronism (PA), an important cause of secondary hypertension. This led to my interest in the study and research of endocrine hypertension.


Describe your research & the program/lab (info of your supervisor) that you are in?

Constantine StratakisI am the lead Associate Investigator on a clinical research protocol studying patients with PA. I am particularly interested in the genetics and metabolic complications of PA. I have two remarkable mentors: Dr. Maya B. Lodish and Dr. Constantine A. Stratakis, both experts and investigators in adrenal and pituitary diseases at the NIH.

 

 Left: Constantine Stratakis


What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

Our laboratory has recently discovered that germline and somatic ARMC5 gene mutations may be associated with PA, particularly in African-American patients, which may underlie part of the known increased predisposition of this population to low renin hypertension (PMID: 25822102).


What is your favourite manuscript from a lab or mentor other than your own (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

I am fascinated by the research in the field of pediatric hypertension especially in patients with Cushing syndrome. Various papers from our lab describing improvement of hypertension in children who were treated at the NIH,  (Pubmed: 9293264) and blood pressure in pediatric patients with Cushing syndrome (Pubmed: 19293264),  are of particular interest.


What facilities are essential for your research?

May 2015 spotlight - colleaguesAn important aspect of our laboratory and research is collaboration. My teammates (Paraskevi Xekouki, Fabio R. Faucz, and Annabel Berthon) help me with genetic analyses, immunohistochemistry and cell line transfection experiments, which are all important aspects to the success of our research on PA.

 

Left: laboratory colleagues


Where do your research strengths lie? Why? What are your research weaknesses? How will you improve?

I do not give up. Even if the review of the manuscript is “harsh”, I still take the time and effort to perfect the work. Researchers are often disappointed, overwhelmed, and discouraged by the frequent manuscript rejections. However, I have developed an attitude of positivity and enthusiasm, which has served me well. And yes, statistics are my weakness; however, I have learned from various instructional videos the basics and I shall continue to strive for more knowledge in this area to perfect my work.


Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science?

I will never forget the moment wen I found out about my Match in Endocrinology fellowship at the NIH, which truly enabled me to become a physician scientist.


At which conference did you first present?

I presented my first abstract on testosterone levels and cognition in substance users at the 2011 Endocrine Society Meeting in Boston


What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest distance that you have traveled for a conference?

I am planning to attend the 2016 Endocrine Society Annual meeting in Boston, MA. I attended International Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy in 2012. Wow, what a beautiful city! The conference reception was held in a castle with a magical view.


How did you learn about ISH/NIN and its activities?

Word of mouth, like really good things in this life, and Fady  Hannah-Shmouni, MD.


What area(s) do you wish to specialize in the future?

I would like to continue my research on PA. This disease was described decades ago, and little is known about its genetics.


Who is your role model in Science? Why?

My current mentors at the NIH are my role models. Dr. Maya B. Lodish is a wonderful physician scientist, who is also able to balance between her family and running the pediatric endocrinology fellowship program. I enjoy her scientific integrity, and humbleness very much. She empowers her fellows and postdocs through encouragement and dedication.

Dr. Constantine A. Stratakis has the unique ability to remember everything and everyone. I am fascinated by his ability to combine a deep understanding of the disease processes: from molecular genetics to translational science to patient care. A remarkable physician, scientist and leader!


Are you involved in other scientific or career associations? If yes, how is it helping in your career advancements?

I am an active member of the Endocrine Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology. I have attended the fellow’s series, which I find to be quite helpful.


What are your scientific goals? Advise for talented emerging scientists?

I encourage emerging physician scientist to find time to do science, even if the hours are challenging.  Ask for protected research time! When you get it, manage the time wisely. The more work you put into it, the more gain is achieved.  

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