Addelynn Sagadevan PhD student studies gene therapy treatments for MS

Addelynn Sagadevan is a fourth-year student in the Genetics and Genomics Graduate Program. Inspired by the need for more gene therapy treatments and the many technological advances in the field of genetics, Sagadevan joined the Hoffman lab in order to research potential gene therapy treatments for Multiple Sclerosis.

“My previous years of research at UCLA paved the path to my current research in the Hoffman Lab in the Pediatrics Department, Sagadevan said. “His novel outlook of using gene therapy to establish tolerance in autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis was unconventional and intrigued me enough for me to rotate in and ultimately join his lab. Dr. Hoffman’s ability to find several ways in approaching a problem and personable nature led me to select him as my mentor. My current project focuses on creating a multi-vector/multi-gene immunotherapy platform that restores Tolerance to myelin proteins involved in MS as well as advancing research towards clinical relevance by interrogating the interactions of our gene immunotherapies with currently established treatment protocols.”

Sagadevan is passionate about her research and excited about the progress that they are continuing to make.

“I strongly feel the research I work on has the ability to drastically impact the world as we have the potential to cure Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating and incurable disease,” Sagadevan said. “In moving towards a world free of MS, our lab believes that it is important to show our support to those afflicted with MS beyond the lab bench, by participating in events organized by The MS society such as their annual MS walk. It is at these times where we truly notice the impact of our research on the general community where MS patients and their loved ones approach us with thanks and leave with hope that they can look forward to having a cure soon. It is also vital to for the scientific community to learn about our research and I have been lucky enough to share my research at several conferences including our own FGS and Florida Translational Cell Biology Symposium. I have also recently been selected to present my research at the prestigious Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in May and look forward to sharing our academic progress.”

After being in the G&G program for a number of years, Sagadevan said that she is grateful for both the flexibility and comradery the program has provided her with.

“During the first year of classes, all four of us from our cohort were inseparable,” Sagadevan said. “The camaraderie in the program allows for a flourishing academic environment. We would have classes together, work on homework after that and even go out on the weekends. We remain close and in frequent contact. The students in the program are very friendly and I know that if any student needed something, everyone in the G&G program would be willing to help.”

2017 cohort

Sagadevan stated that the exploratory nature of the G&G program as well as its excellent academic guidance sets it apart from other programs.

“With over 200 faculty as part of the UFGI, I was given the opportunity to explore avenues I had not previously considered and was not confined to a particular research area,” Sagadevan said. “Since my first year here, everyone involved in the operations of this program have been very helpful. The academic specialists of this program truly care about the students and look out for our best interest. Dr. Brooks herself has been very attentive to our needs and has personally checked in on me to ensure smooth sailing of my gradate research. In addition, the quality of education I received is impeccable- from the extremely engaging classes, numerous and vast resources to the experimental work I perform, there is no comparison and am proud to call myself a student of the G&G program at UF.”

Sagadevan’s research, like most students has been impacted and slowed by Coronavirus safety measures. However, she has been encouraged by the support and optimism of her lab members.

“It has been a struggle as I have had to terminate experiments especially those involving animals, that I have been working on for some time now.,” Sagadevan said. “However, everyone in my lab is working together to do the best we can in order to move research forward in this testing time. My professor has been very supportive of all lab members and I am currently focusing my time on writing manuscripts and grants.”

Moving forward Sagadevan plans to pursue a career in industry upon graduating from the G&G program.

“Many graduate students face the age-old dilemma of academia vs industry, Sagadevan said. “I too have greatly considered my options and with the mentorship of my PI, as well as the research scientist in my lab have decided that a future in industry would suit me well and will be the best use of my talents.”

G&G Program Students

According to Sagadevan, the broad scope of material she has been able to learn has been the most rewarding part of being in the G&G program.

“A good quote that I read by W.B Yeast goes like “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled,” Sagadevan said. “This resonated with me and I believe that the purpose of an education is not to dole out degrees but provide you with the immeasurable resources and skills to aid in a greater capacity for the betterment of humanity. This sort of education is what I have received through this program and it has been so very rewarding.”