DIMENSIONS Winter 2002

Meet Inez Vincent

by Julie Cleveland

photo of Inez Vincent

Dr. Inez Vincent is a research associate professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington (UW). She has been working there since she moved to Seattle in 1998. There are many diverse responsibilities for Dr. Vincent in organizing her own research group within the UW, but she also interfaces with research occurring outside of the UW. Vincent states, "A lot of my time is spent communicating with other people in the field and creating collaborations-discussing ideas, getting tools, and offering ours."

Dr. Vincent is the P.I. for several studies on cell cycle mechanisms and neurodegeneration, (funded by the Alzheimer's Association, the Lambright Foundation, and the NIH ). These grants focus on a new area in Alzheimer's disease (AD) research: The role of the cell cycle in development of AD. The cell cycle is a mechanism for cells to proliferate; it is involved in the birth of new cells and their subsequent multiplication or division. The neurons formed in the brain in fetal life, around the time of birth, and during the early years of life are believed to be the only neurons capable of dividing. Adult neurons don't typically divide. However, Dr. Vincent and her colleagues have discovered that there is ongoing cell cycle activity, at least certain aspects of it, in the brain of persons with AD. Dr. Vincent believes that the molecules involved in this 'aberrant' cell cycle are present at the wrong time and in the wrong place, and very likely cause these neurons to die. "We still don't know whether they lead to the final pathological picture of the disease," states Vincent. "We know that they cause some of the changes that have been described in neurons that are dying, but whether they are solely responsible for neuronal death and the damage of the disease is really not known. We do have preliminary evidence, but what we're missing at this point is some really hard evidence."

Outside of work, Dr. Vincent enjoys traveling, and spending time with her husband and 4- year-old daughter. She loves to travel, and experience other cultures, has lived in India, and visited Europe, Canada, Australia and Africa. Community service has always been a huge part of her life. She founded SPOONS in New York City, a volunteer organization that transported donated food from restaurants and cafeterias to a soup kitchen. She was also a youth group leader for the Red Cross when she lived in Bronx. She and her husband have recently become licensed foster parents, and have fostered a 10-year-old girl. They hope to foster refugee children in the future.

The aspect Dr. Vincent enjoys most about her job is solving problems - trying to figure out what and why changes in the AD brain occur. Vincent states, "Just making discoveries on a daily basis is really the best part. You get gratification from knowing that you are a step ahead in terms of understanding what's going on - that's the greatest reward ."

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