Skip to main content

An Interview With Dr. Erik Foehr


By Zack Griggy, MSS Intern, San Marin High School, Novato

          In today's world, infectious disease remains a deadly concern to humanity. Some of these diseases include anthrax, Venezuelian equine encephalitis, bubonic plague, MERS, Eastern equine encephalitis, and, of course, botulism. Botulism is a disease that can cause paralysis and even death, but what makes botulism so different from the rest of these diseases is that the substance that causes it, botulinum toxin, is widely marketed as a beauty product under the name Botox. Dr. Erik Foehr, an expert in the fields of bioanalysis, immunogenicity risk assessment, and drug development, is currently investigating the toxin and how the body responds to it. Attend his presentation at Terra Linda High School, 320 Nova Albion Way, in Room 207 from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on September 30th.



In order to gain a little more insight before his talk, we interviewed Dr. Foehr about his work and research.


1. What drew you into the fields of pharmacology and bioanalysis?

I have always enjoyed learning about biology and how living things work.  After high school at Drake, I went to UC Davis and studied genetics and biochemistry.  I eventually worked in the biotechnology industry and specialized in pharmacology and bioanalysis.

 2. What have you studied in the past and how did this lead to your study on botulinum toxin?

I studied cell biology and how cells signal and function. I also spent many years studying immunology.  In my current job I study how botulinum toxin works and test if people develop antibodies to the toxin.

 
3. How is botulinum toxin used in beauty products? How are dangers minimized by these products?

Its a bit crazy to think something so dangerous can be used as a beauty product (it removes wrinkles).  The trick is to use a tiny amount and inject it at the site of the wrinkle. The toxin inhibits the neuro-muscular activity so that the skin looks "relaxed". They are finding other more medically relevant uses of the toxin.

 4. What do you enjoy the most about your work? What do you enjoy the least?

I enjoy learning about the huge number of experimental new drugs being developed for unmet medical needs and helping to study them. Sometimes I would like to spend more time "thinking" and less time "doing".

 5. Do you have any advice for high school students who aspire to be pharmacologists?

Study what interests you and be prepared to be a life-time learner. Science and technology move really fast and you need to adapt and learn on the go. Don't get replaced by robots!


Join us Wednesday, September 30th, at Terra Linda High School, 320 Nova Albion Way, in Room 207 from 7:30 to 8:30 to hear Dr. Foehr talk about his work and his study on botulinum toxin and other lethal diseases. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

All About Lysosomes

by Angel Zhou, Branson School

Lysosomes, discovered and named by Belgian biologist Christian de Duve, who eventually received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1974, are membrane-enclosed organelles that function as the digestive system of the cell, both degrading material taken up from outside the cell and digesting obsolete components of the cell itself. The membrane around a lysosome allows the digestive enzymes to work at the pH they require. In their simplest form, lysosomes are visualized as dense spherical vacuoles, but they can display considerable variation in size and shape as a result of differences in the materials that have been taken up for digestion. Lysosomes contain an array of enzymes capable of breaking down biological polymers, including proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.

The lysosome’s enzymes are synthesized in the rough endoplasmic reticulum. The enzymes are released from Golgi apparatus in small vesicles which ultimately fuse with acidic vesicles ca…

The Birth of the Universe, through Today's Telescopes

by Sandra Ning, Terra Linda HS

A nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Though nebulae are often the focus of space appreciation in pop culture, the universe encompasses billions more phenomena. (source)
     A story is typically told from the beginning, but oftentimes the universe is an exception. As a society, time is measured in days and nights, hours, minutes, and seconds. But even more so, time is apparent to us through the peachy sunrise of dawn, the angry grumbles of an empty stomach at noon, and the fatigue that settles with the darkness of night. It's hard to imagine any of these things in relation to the universe, with its sleepless planets and nomadic asteroids, all swallowed up in an unimaginably large blanket of space. If the universe is a story, and all the galaxies, comets, and stars its characters, where does it all begin? 
     Luckily, scientists have already delved into the origins of the universe, and have resurfaced with new and exciting insights regarding these qu…

Green Homes and the Greenhouse Effect

A sustainable-energy house. (source)
   Climate change has integrated itself into our daily actions. It’s in the green recycle bins, marked with the immediately recognizable triangular arrow symbol, the paper versus plastic, the electric cars humming down the road and the grass-fed cows. Becoming environmentally-conscious has affected many communities, some more than others.      It’s still not enough. Ice caps are still making the news as they melt into the ocean, and this summer’s record-breaking temperatures have cast an ominous shadow onto the future. People are largely aware of this, but oftentimes brush the frantic cries of environmental scientists off. To many, global warming has faded into the background, a part of the ever-changing scenery and a doom so large and so distant there’s no point in actively searching for ways to slow it. ‘Going green’ is too unwieldy, too time-consuming, too costly or too much effort.
    However, global warming cannot be dismissed so easily. Ice caps…