Jordie Kamuene

Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bouvé College of Health Sciences

“I am studying voltage-gated sodium channels and their connection to cardiac disease, both to further the understanding of this system, and to find ways to introduce new therapies, or re-apply existing therapies, to help people suffering from these diseases.”

As a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jordie Kamuene has seen first-hand the suffering caused by the absence of strong public health programs. “People easily get affected and then eventually pass away from diseases that are very preventable, if only they had the education and resources in place to help them,” she says, “That gave me a really strong drive to help people, particularly in the public health sector.”

That drive has played a large role in her decision to pursue a doctorate in Pharmaceutical Science. A graduate of UMASS Amherst with dual degrees – a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as well as a BSc in Microbiology, Kamuene is working as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Leigh Plant. There they study voltage-gated sodium channels, proteins that are vital to electrical signal generation and transmission within the human body. “I’m actually his first PhD student at Northeastern, which is great because we get to work together 1-on-1 on a lot of projects.”

“For my own project, I am studying voltage-gated sodium channel 1.5, also known as ‘NaV 1.5’,” she explains, “It is abundantly found in the heart, and its activation and deactivation are essential for determining the length and duration of cardiac action potentials. As you can imagine, if there is some manner of dysregulation with this protein machinery, it can manifest in a number of cardiac diseases.”

As she progresses with her PhD, Kamuene hopes to use her research into NaV 1.5 to benefit vulnerable populations, particularly infants and African Americans. While she expects to be working on her PhD until 2023, she hasn’t stopped thinking about the future. In the longer term, she intends to apply her passion and knowledge to public health on a national level, working on largescale health initiatives for government entities such as the CDC or NIH. “Eventually I’d really like to find a role where I can both lead research, as well as write policy.”

“My hope is that I can combine my research with my passion for public health to develop prophylactic interventions to prevent heart diseases.”
Jordie Kamuene