null Diversifying the next generations
Loydie Jerome-Majewska does more than study how errors occur in early embryo development, in order to prevent them
Source: Health E-News. Loydie Jerome-Majewska, PhD, a scientist in the Child Health and Human Development Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), has been identified as one of three women at McGill University leading the charge to cultivate more representation in future generations of scientists and clinicians. She, along with McGill colleagues Alba Guarné and Victoire Kpadé, are recognized for going beyond their work in the lab or clinic to bring diversity and inclusion to the fields of science and health.
How this basic research scientist found her career path is as engaging as the advocacy activities that grew alongside it.
Cracking the developmental code
“Have you ever wondered how you go from a single cell to a complex embryo?” Before encountering that question during a university lecture, Loydie Jerome-Majewska had not given much thought to this process. But that query piqued her interest and set her on the path that led to her current position as an RI-MUHC researcher and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University, where she studies the molecular and genetic underpinnings of early human development.
A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental factors, such as what a pregnant mother ingests, can play a significant role in how these mutations manifest in a developing embryo. Jerome-Majewska hopes to pinpoint these in order to find new treatments. “That’s my dream right now,” she says. “Going beyond just understanding why issues arise and figuring out how to prevent them.”
Through her research, Jerome-Majewska has pinpointed a role in development for several genes that were previously not considered to be important in this process. This work has enabled her lab to create mouse models for several developmental disorders, such as DiGeorge syndrome (a condition also known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome that can cause a wide range of defects, including congenital health problems, delayed growth and frequent infections), which they are now using to better understand these conditions and to identify potential interventions.
Jerome-Majewska is particularly interested in determining how errors occur during early development. By doing so, she hopes to identify ways to reduce the chances of them happening or reducing their effects. A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental factors, such as what a pregnant mother ingests, can play a significant role in how these mutations manifest in a developing embryo. Jerome-Majewska hopes to pinpoint these in order to find new treatments. “That’s my dream right now,” she says. “Going beyond just understanding why issues arise and figuring out how to prevent them.”
Trainees who stay in science: a win!
In addition to her research, Jerome-Majewska considers her trainees’ success as one of her biggest accomplishments. The majority of her former students have gone on to take various jobs in science, both in research and in other sectors, such as health care. “I’m delighted that they’ve pretty much all stayed in science,” Jerome-Majewska says. “I call that a win, because it’s not an easy field to stay in.”
A peer-support network for underrepresented and excluded individuals in science: “One of the big goals is to reduce isolation, to provide support, and then to provide professional development.”
Advocacy and mentorship
Outside of the lab, Jerome-Majewska is involved in various advocacy-related efforts. She chairs the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the American Association for Anatomy. As part of this role, Jerome-Majewska is setting up a peer-support network for underrepresented and excluded individuals in science. “One of the big goals is to reduce isolation, to provide support, and then to provide professional development,” she explains. Jerome-Majewska has recently secured $100,000 per year in funding to carry out this effort over the next three years.
Jerome-Majewska is also a co-founder of the Canadian Black Scientist Network, a group that provides mentorship, advocacy, and visibility to Black Canadians in science, technology, engineering and math.
At McGill, Jerome-Majewska is a co-convener of the Dr. Kenneth Melville Black Faculty and Staff Caucus (named for the late Faculty of Medicine Health Sciences leader Melville, B.Sc.’26, MDCM’26, M.Sc.’31), a group aimed at creating a supportive learning and working environment for Black faculty and staff. In that role, Jerome-Majewska is working with the other members of the group to set the agenda for implementing the anti-Black racism plan put forth by McGill’s Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal. “I’m super excited about the opportunity, because even though there aren’t a lot of Black faculty and staff at McGill, there are enough of us that we can make sure to make the plan a success,” says Jerome-Majewska.
March 26, 2021