Meet Kathryn J. Moore

Associate editor of the Journal of Lipid Research

Kathryn J. Moore

Kathryn J. Moore at New York University Medical Center has been an associate editor for the Journal of Lipid Research since 2014. Moore’s lab studies the innate immune system and microRNAs in the regulation of lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis. ASBMB Today’s executive editor, Angela Hopp, interviewed Moore to learn more about her scientific interests, academic path, and thoughts on balancing work and home life. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Briefly explain what your research group is studying.

My research team investigates the mechanisms underlying chronic sterile inflammation and metabolic dysregulation in atherosclerosis and diet-induced obesity. Our current projects focus on three main areas: noncoding RNA regulation of cholesterol metabolism and inflammation, mechanisms of sterile innate immune activation, and neuronal guidance cue regulation of immune cell trafficking and inflammation.

Using animal models combined with cellular and molecular biology techniques, we aim to understand better how imbalances in metabolism and noncoding RNAs promote disease.

Tell us about your academic background and research training.

I grew up in Montreal, Canada, where I attended McGill University for both my undergraduate and graduate studies. My early interests were in infectious disease, and I obtained a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a Ph.D. in parasitology/immunology.

While studying the host immune response to the trypanosome Leishmania donovani, I became fascinated with macrophages and their front-line role in innate immunity. This became an enduring passion. I moved to Boston to pursue postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, focusing on the role of macrophage-driven inflammation in lupus nephritis and atherosclerosis. I was intrigued by the mechanisms underlying chronic sterile inflammation in these conditions and how the macrophage, despite its good intentions, could wreak such havoc.

One of the things that I love most about science is the freedom to explore. My lab continues to study macrophages and their various roles in innate immunity, lipid metabolism and inflammation, which continually takes us into new directions – noncoding RNA, cellular metabolism, immune cell migration. Every day presents a new puzzle, and I enjoy being continuously challenged.

What does it mean to you, on a personal level, to be an associate editor for the JLR?

Joe Witztum, one of the editors-in-chief, called to ask me personally to consider becoming an associate editor, and despite my busy schedule, I couldn’t say no. Joe and Ed Dennis, the other editor-in-chief, work incredibly hard to keep JLR one of the top lipid journals in our field, and they inspire me to try do the same.

Kathryn J. Moore spends time with her husband, Robert Blaustein of Merck, and two children, 9-year-old Jake and 7-year-old Emma.

Do you have any advice for balancing life inside and outside of the lab?

Achieving work-life balance is a daily challenge! I have two small kids and commute for three hours a day. I’ve learned that everyone has advice on how to balance the demands of an academic research career and family, but you need figure out what works for you personally.

I am constantly making to-do lists and prioritizing items so that I have a clear picture of everything that is pending. One side of my list has work items and the other side family and home items so that I am aware of all of my responsibilities and can think about how to divide my time. It helps to be honest with those around you about your responsibilities and their expectations.

Times are changing for both men and women, and topics like scheduling meetings to avoid conflicts with daycare or school drop-off or pickup are no longer frowned upon. Although an academic research career is very demanding, it also comes with a degree of flexibility that is not present in an industry setting. That means that I can still chaperone a school trip or work from home on a day when I need to attend a soccer game at 3 p.m. But, inevitably, there is not enough time in the day to get everything done, and I find myself returning emails after midnight!

What do you do outside of the lab? Hobbies?

I love home improvement projects. I get some of my best scientific ideas with a paintbrush in hand.

For scientists in training, do you have any words of wisdom or a favorite motto?

Develop a circle of mentors and peers that you can go to for feedback and advice. No one person can fulfill all of your mentoring needs, and it is important to build a network of people to help guide you on your road to success. Finally, never give up!

Angela Hopp Angela Hopp is communications director for ASBMB and executive editor of ASBMB Today.