Meet New Investigator Natalia Osna, M.D., Ph.D.

January 13, 2015

Image with caption: Natalia Osna, M.D., Ph.D.

Natalia Osna, M.D., Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored Feb. 2 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2014 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

  • Name: Natalia A. Osna, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Title: Assistant professor, GI, Internal Medicine, College of Medicine
  • Joined UNMC: 2000
  • Hometown: Riga, Latvia

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
Hepatitis C and alcohol are the most widespread causes of liver disease worldwide, and approximately 80 percent of patients with a history of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and alcohol abuse develop chronic liver injury. My research is focused on the mechanisms of aggravation of HCV-infection severity by alcohol consumption. Specifically, our laboratory is interested in the role of both HCV and alcohol in the reduction of immune protection against viral infection.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
Understanding of the mechanisms of HCV-infection aggravation by alcohol will help in development of treatment strategies for chronic hepatitis C patients who heavily consume alcohol. The sensitivity to treatment is really low when these patients are treated with recombinant interferon alpha. Now, when specific anti-HCV drugs were created, it is still not clear whether alcohol would interfere with the outcomes of this new therapy and how to block the unwanted effects of alcohol on immune antiviral protection.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
In research, it's always more questions than answers. New discoveries frequently allow reconsidering already known facts, and we need to be really flexible in our interpretations. There are no ready-to-go recipes and nothing is absolute.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I love to celebrate a New Year.
  • I understand nothing about American football.
  • I like to cook without following the recipes.

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Kusum K. Kharbanda
January 13, 2015 at 3:48 PM

Congratulations, Natalia!!!