Sarah Vermij

Research Scientist

I investigate the cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5: where it is expressed, and which proteins it interacts with in different domains of heart muscle cells.

In my PhD project, I aimed to unravel how different mutations in the gene SCN5A cause a wide range of heart rhythm disorders. SCN5A encodes the cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5, which is critical for electrical conduction and cardiac function. Given that Nav1.5 is expressed in different functional regions (“pools”) within one heart muscle cell, and many different proteins regulate Nav1.5 expression and function, we hypothesize that the regulation of Nav1.5 differs between pools. Therefore, a mutation in SCN5A may have a pool-specific effect. I especially focus on the deep invaginations of the cell membrane, which are called T-tubules: I examine whether Nav1.5 is expressed there, and I theoretically evaluate the functional consequences of the absence and presence of Nav1.5 in T-tubules.

I investigate the nanoscale localization of Nav1.5 with super-resolution microscopy (in the labs of Mario Delmar and Eli Rothenberg, New York University – supported by a SNF Doc.Mobility grant), I assess interaction partners of Nav1.5 with several biochemical techniques, and I measure ion currents conducted by Nav1.5 with electrophysiology in different models in which several Nav1.5-interacting proteins are knocked out.

Outside of my scientific work, I’m fascinated by science communication and provide scientific editing, writing, and presentation coaching services on www.scienceinwords.com. I’m moreover a mentor for a master’s student in the Womentoring program, and a tutor for first- and second-year medicine students in problem-based learning. In my free time, you can find me playing violin in several orchestras (Sommerensemble, Musica Movendi) or running in the Bremgartenwald.

 

On the Web

Email: sarah.vermij@ibmm.unibe.ch

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

(ORCID 0000-0002-6419-6159)

www.scienceinwords.com