Web exclusive: Full Q&A with Coordinator Gigi Satris

Here is the full Coordinator Corner Q&A interview with Gigi Satris, PREDICT-HD coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco, featured in the PREDICT-HD Press, which is available for download here.


Gigi SatrisQuestion: Please state your academic degrees and from what institutions, and please give us your current job title.

Gigi Satris (pictured right): I did my undergrad at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., where I majored in psychology and minored in Spanish (class of 2008). After graduation and a year of teaching English abroad in Spain, I enrolled at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and completed a Master's of Science in neuroscience and cognition with an emphasis in cognitive neuroscience (class of 2011). Currently, I'm a research coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where I coordinate our Huntington disease and Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA) studies.


Q: How long have you been a coordinator for PREDICT-HD? Do you fulfill any other roles in PREDICT-HD?

GS: I have been a coordinator for PREDICT-HD since I started at UCSF in September of 2011. I am the cognitive rater and I also run the MRI scanner and administer the interview questionnaires.


Q: What made you want to get involved in HD/neurological disease research?

GS: I really wanted to stay in my field! I became interested in cognitive neuroscience after one class at Willamette and I pursued a master's because I knew I wasn't ready to commit to a Ph.D., but I still really wanted to continue in neuroscience. I wanted to work in the field I studied and in my field of interest and passion. I only really became involved with HD upon starting here at UCSF, but I feel so lucky to be able to help contribute to this field.


Q: What do you like most about your job as a PREDICT-HD coordinator?

GS: I really enjoy working with the presymptomatic patient population. The dedication that PREDICT-HD participants have to research is very impressive and they are always so optimistic and appreciative of the research and researchers. My participants are so determined to find a cure to a disease that has affected their family members for generations, and they are determined to help find a treatment for the next generation.


Now that I have been a coordinator for over a year, I also really enjoy seeing my participants a second time and seeing how their year between visits has been and checking in with them.


Q: In your opinion, what are some things that make PREDICT-HD stand out as a research study?

GS: It has also been interesting to see changes in the PREDICT-HD protocol, based on what questionnaires and tests have provided valuable data. It's great that PREDICT-HD examines the data as it comes in and makes appropriate changes and developments as needed. Coordination with PREDICT-HD Central Study Management has always gone really well, which I really appreciate. I think PREDICT-HD also stands out just given the scope of what is being examined – thinking, function, brain shape, blood.


Q: Anything you'd like to say to your PREDICT-HD participants?

GS: Keep up the dedication! The more yearly visits and longitudinal data we can collect, the better.


Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

GS: I play in a softball league and trampoline dodgeball league. I enjoy seeing music at different venues in San Francisco. I snowboard at Tahoe, Calif., every chance I get. I'm pretty obsessed with National Public Radio podcasts

Trampoline Dodgeball
Trampoline dodgeball
(image courtesy World Dodgeball Society)


Q: How do you usually start your day?

GS: Cup of coffee, National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" podcast, and a 10 minute walk to the shuttle which brings me to work.


Gigi and Natalie

Q: What actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life?

GS: I'd say Natalie Portman just because I love when people say I look a little like her.





London Big BenQ: Of all the other PREDICT-HD sites, if you had to choose one besides your own to move to, live in that city and work there, which one would you chose and why?

GS: Somewhere abroad! Probably London (pictured left, courtesy Wikimedia Commons) – I've loved the time I have spent in Europe and my best friend from my year in Spain lives there. Orr Melbourne, Australia for a bit of an adventure.





Q: What's your favorite food?

GS: Hot and sour soup.


Q: What's your favorite television show or movie?

GS: Right now, "Girls" and "Downton Abbey."


Williams sistersQ: What was your most memorable experience in 2012?

GS: I  went to London and met up with my two best friends from my year in Spain. We ended up getting tickets to Wimbledon for 10£ and saw Venus and Serena Williams win in doubles. 







Serena and Venus Williams
(Julian Finney/Getty Images)