Valeria Cota

Valeria Cota, Ph.D. student, Human Toxicology

Improves wound healing

“Valeria is studying how skin of color responds differently after application of microneedles to the skin. Microneedles are a physical enhancement technique that allow skin-based delivery of drugs that otherwise do not cross the skin. Studying the mechanisms contributing to differences in skin healing in skin of color will guide development of drug products that are safe for diverse patient populations, but may also have implications for better understanding of healing of large wounds as well.” – Nicole Brogden, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Nicole Brogden, PharmD., PhD.
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? I am pursuing a PhD in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology. I plan on graduating in Spring of 2024.
Please describe your research: My research is focused on investigating how the neurotransmitter dopamine affects microwound healing in diverse skin types. Through the formation of small pores (microwounds) we can more effectively deliver drugs through the skin. However, differences in how these pores close can result in differences in drug delivery.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Variability in how microwounds heal can be detrimental to successful drug delivery. This is especially concerning since we see delayed barrier recovery in skin of color. Overall, we are looking to address why disparities in microwound healing occur in the general population.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to begin conducting research immediately after joining the toxicology program at the University of Iowa.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Conducting research has been integral to my success here at the University of Iowa. It has exposed me to a wide variety of fields and has taught me how to think critically. The ability to conduct research in an area that is important to me also has strengthened my desire to continue pursuing science.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to pursue a postdoctoral researcher position that will further my skills as a scientist and prepare me for an academic faculty position in toxicology and pharmacology.

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