Dr. Anibal Chertcoff is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Helen Tremlett‘s lab. We caught up with Anibal to learn more about his latest research and his hobbies outside of the lab.

What is the focus of your research in Dr. Tremlett’s lab?

My current research focuses mainly on two themes:

  1. the use of prescription medications by people with MS
  2. aiming to understand and characterize psychiatric conditions that may develop in the years before the typical onset of MS (ie. the prodromal stage)

You recently published a new paper as first author. What did you find and why is it important?

My latest paper addresses the issue of multiple medication use (polypharmacy) by people with MS. Surprisingly little is known about all the different medications that people with MS are taking. Our work demonstrated that one in four people with MS were taking five or more medications at any one time, with nearly two-thirds taking them for more than six months. These included drugs such as antidepressants, antiepileptics, and ‘stomach’ medications (peptic ulcer drugs). Interestingly, those at greatest ‘risk’ of taking multiple medications were women, and people living in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods. This was a large population-based study comprising over 14,000 people living with MS in British Columbia.

Our findings are relevant given that taking multiple medications, although necessary and appropriate on many occasions, has been linked to a higher risk of experiencing drug side effects and problematic drug interactions which in turn may increase the risk of being hospitalized and having to visit an emergency department.

What advice do you have for new trainees looking to pursue research?

I would encourage them to keep that curiosity that got them interested in research and to seize every opportunity they have to learn something new. The more open-minded and diverse they can be, the more perspective they will gain when addressing their research questions. And to those, like me, who want to come from other parts of the world to do research here in Canada, I would certainly encourage them to lose the fear and contact other trainees, supervisors, mentors or PIs for opportunities. Sometimes it can be surprising the openness and generosity one can encounter on the other side.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the lab?

Recently my partner and I have added a new canine member to our family (a Shiba Inu puppy), so these last few months we have been truly enjoying her presence, going for long walks with her, enjoying the little silly things she does every day and getting in touch with all things dog-related.