María Jose Fernandez Sanchez is an Internal Medicine and Respiratory Physician at Hospital Universitario San Ignacio and also a Physiology Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia. Passionate for the study of physiology and physiopathology of the human respiratory system and of mechanisms involved on the response of humans to infection. Particularly attracted by the study of the complexity of the neuro-immunological response to septic processes and the factors underlying between individual variations that can explain the diverse outcomes of infected patients. She began studying humans as the primary model in her research while she was doing her internal medicine residence; however the complexity of the phenomenon required the implementation of novel signal processing techniques and advanced immunological measurement methods that induced her to enrolled to a Master’s degree in Biological Science so she could develop skills that allowed her to get a better approach to the problem.
She has successfully measure the inflammatory reflex in septic patients under medical care and explored its association with the development of severe sepsis, septic shock and death. This is a major achievement that opens the possibility to study how the level and extent of the inflammatory reflex developed individually for each patient can explain the different outcomes in septic patients. In addition to a deeper comprehension of the interactions between the immunological and autonomic nervous system as an integrated response to infection, the implementation of the techniques used experimentally to quantify the reflex have allowed her to come up with real solutions to medical problems.
Also, as fellow she developed valuable research targeted on patients with respiratory issues; specifically finding the association between the presence of involuntary stops during a six minute walk test with other variables calculated from the test such as speed, work, the product distance-saturation, the desaturation distance ratio and exercise-induced desaturation. This research was recognized as the best original work by the Colombian Association of Pneumology and clearly highlights the enthusiasm, dedication, creativity and contribution of her work to her country.
During her last year as a respiratory fellow, she had the fortune of being introduce by Dr. Alejandra Canas to Dr. Adriana Rojas and their epigenetics in lung cancer research group. As part of her clinical training she was allow to work with both of them and also Dr. Rojas master of biological science student Angelica Herreno, learning their method of establishment of an in vitro culture, subsequently its morphological, biological and molecular characterization. Being envolved with them she took part of the development of a method of culturing lung samples from minimally invasive procedures and their characterization.
All this is a clear example of her passion for translational research is searching for predictors of clinical use, and establishment of novel approaches to the health and disease phenomenon. This is what really drives her.