Meet UNMC New Investigator Larisa Poluektova, M.D., Ph.D.

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Larisa Poluektova, M.D., Ph.D.
UNMC researcher Larisa Poluektova, M.D., Ph.D., answers questions about her work, life and interests.

NOTE: This profile is part of a series highlighting the 23 researchers who were named UNMC Distinguished Scientists or New Investigators for 2008. Each of these researchers will be profiled in UNMC Today leading up to a Monday ceremony to recognize their achievements.

  • Name: Larisa Poluektova, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience
  • Joined UNMC: 1998
  • Hometown: Riga, Latvia

Describe your research in laymen terms, please.

Since I joined UNMC more than a decade ago, I became interested in murine models that mimic human disease and allow scientists to manipulate with human-specific viruses such as HIV-1.

What led you to pursue this area of research?

The use of "humanized" mice models can possibly help us predict or prevent harmful side effects of drugs before they enter the market and endanger human lives.

How do you see your research contributing to science?

I see my research work contributing to science through collaboration with other talented researchers (who have great ideas to be tested on "humanized" animals).

Why did you become a scientist?

My professional interests, past education and life experiences contributed to my career path.

What is your hope for the next generation of scientists?

My hope for the next generation of scientists is that they don't fear failure and keep exploring. If they fail, they will try harder and if they try harder they will continue to move forward.

Beyond grant funding, how do you measure success?

I measure success by overcoming obstacles. I also measure success by enjoying what I'm doing.

What would you tell a student interested in a research career?

Never quit learning and don't be afraid of challenges. Keep taking more challenging courses in college because they will better prepare students for the future and broaden career choices.

Do you have a hero/role model? If so, what do you admire most about this person?

Our parents, who immigrated with us from Latvia to provide better opportunities for us as well as our children.

Tell us about your family and hobbies outside of the lab.

We have two grown children, daughter Polina and son Ilya. We almost always prepare healthy meals at home and enjoy our family time together.

List three things few people know about you.

Before becoming a doctor, I studied music and played chess. My work is my real hobby.