Regina Clemens, MD, PhD
Gina was born and raised in the middle of the country in a place called St. Louis, Missouri, home of the Gateway Arch. Her childhood summers were spent with her father at Johns Hopkins, freely roaming through the hospital and laboratory halls. Her favorite past-times included swimming in the Chesapeake Bay, playing with lab rats and learning to mouth-pipet (before the days of “IACUC” and “lab safety”). Despite a natural aptitude for freezing objects with liquid nitrogen, she emphatically denied any interest in science and began planning her career as either a professional violinist or a veterinarian. For college Gina moved a full 15 minutes from home to Washington University in St. Louis. There she pursued a wild college experience with 4 years of 5am crew practice and a year abroad in Dublin, Ireland studying Zoology and Guinness.
Gina’s career aspirations were ultimately influenced by a cat allergy and Dr. David Gius, a physician-scientist and her college research mentor. Therefore, after college she entered the MSTP program at the University of Pennsylvania. For her graduate studies she joined the laboratory of Dr. Gary Kratky, investigating how adaptor proteins regulate neutrophil activation. Thus began her fascination with neutrophils as critically important, yet often overlooked, cells in human health and disease. For distraction from the frustration of working with a “sensitive” cell type she continued her athletic endeavors by rock climbing and took up the Irish fiddle in a nod to her Irish roots. For a change of scenery, she left Philadelphia in 2007 for residency and fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at University of California, San Francisco. Her clinical training as an intensivist continued to drive her research interests in inflammation and neutrophil biology and for her post-doctoral studies she worked with Dr. Cliff Lowell investigating how calcium signaling and the process of store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) regulates neutrophil activation. Personally, she met her wife Tonya, an ER nurse, as a wide-eyed intern in the ED. 10 years and three children later, they decided to leave their shoebox in San Francisco and travel back to the Midwest, the land of Grandparents and an amazing professional opportunity for Gina at Washington University.
Gina is now an Instructor in Pediatrics. Clinically, she attends in the Pediatric ICU and is continuing to pursue her research interests in how ER calcium sensors STIM1 and STIM2 and ORAI1 and ORAI2 calcium channels regulate neutrophil activation and their role in neutrophil-mediated inflammatory diseases and lung injury. In her copious free time, she exercises by running after her three boys, Henry (5), Oliver (3) and William (3), and plays the fiddle in Irish music sessions in the city.