Deborah Galson, Ph.D.
ASBMR committee/leadership positions held:
2003, 2007, 2013 - Program Committee for the 25th, 29th, 33rd ASBMR Annual Meeting
2004-2005 - Member, ASBMR Women's Task Force
2005-2008 - Member, ASBMR Women in Bone & Mineral Research Committee
2012-2015 - Member, ASBMR Membership Development Committee
Multiple Myeloma Bone Disease, Paget's Disease of Bone, osteoblasts and osteoclasts, with a focus on signaling and transcription regulation
What is a challenge that you have faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge – bigger than I had anticipated – was the impact of my children on my career. One of my three children fell ill with a severely debilitating chronic illness at the age of 11 just as my youngest was diagnosed with dyslexia. This was all happening as I was trying to make an impact in a new tenure track position and get funded. Well, something had to give, and eventually I went off the tenure track and went “part-time” for 4 years. That meant getting paid part-time from my grant, but working much more than part-time. However, it took the pressure off while I worked to stabilize my home situation. I developed more collaborations as a way to sustain my science during this time. These eventually provided me the opportunity to expand my expertise and launch new projects, which were able to garner additional funding. Thus, a couple of years ago, I had the funding to go back to full-time. My division chief and my department chair are supporting my promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure, which is now making its way through the University. I was lucky that my mentor and colleague Dave Roodman was willing to back me during the most difficult times and that my colleagues in the Center for Bone Biology valued my contributions throughout. I kept myself going through the ups and downs because of my passion for research and by being flexible as I worked to find ways to contribute.
How has membership or leadership with ASBMR helped you in your career? Why would you encourage others to get involved?
Membership in ASBMR has been extremely helpful in many ways. I joined ASBMR soon after I was recruited to work with Steve Goldring on the calcitonin receptor and osteoclast differentiation in 1995. I went to my first ASBMR Annual Meeting in Baltimore MD in 1995, had 3 posters at the 1996 meeting, and have attended all ASBMR Annual Meetings since. I found my early participation in ASBMR helped with both my immersion into the field and the essential networking that promotes collaborations. Eventually I was asked to review abstracts for the 2003, 2007, and 2013 Annual Meetings. While this is a lot of work, it gave me a chance to pay close attention to a large number of abstracts and familiarize myself with more of the great science that goes on at ASBMR than I may have caught at the meeting. It was really exciting to be invited to work on the ASBMR Women's Task Force (2004-2005), which eventually created the Women in Bone & Mineral Research Committee on which I served for 3 years. This enabled me to be involved in discussions and networking that let me mentor others. I felt I was doing something practical about some of the issues that inhibit women from being mentored, included, and recognized to ultimately become successful researchers. The types of sessions brought to the ASBMR Annual Meeting by this committee as well as the Membership Development Committee on which I now serve have helped me cope with my own issues in my career and to develop better negotiation skills. Serving on committees also facilitates my networking and helps me understand more about how scientific organizations work, the politics of science funding, and how to help promote science funding. For all these reasons I always encourage others to get involved!
What brought you to the bone field and why have you stayed?
I was recruited from the world of hematopoiesis (having worked on both the regulation of red cell differentiation by transcription factors and the transcriptional regulation of erythropoietin) to join Steve Goldring’s group in 1995 to study the signal pathways and transcription factors regulating osteoclastogenesis. It was a very exciting time to be a bone biologist and I was completely captured! I have stayed a “bonehead” because I have continued to be excited about learning about all the cells in the bone microenvironment as well as their interactions with invading cells such as cancer cells. I remain focused on signaling and transcriptional regulation during differentiation, although I have added osteoblasts to my repertoire. My main areas of research are now regulation of the aberrant osteoclastogenesis during Paget’s disease, and multiple myeloma cell long-term suppression of osteoblast differentiation. The world of the bone encompasses so many interesting interactions between different cell types, with important repercussions on the bone and on the rest of the body, that I expect to remain fascinated with the study of bone cells for the rest of my career.
Dr. Galson is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.