Talía Sainz

Visiting Scholar

Talía Sainz, MD, PhD (she/her/hers), is a Visiting Scholar in the Hunt Lab. Talía grew up in Madrid. After preparing for two years to enter the Schools of Fine Arts she enrolled in Medicine at Universidad Complutense for her graduate degree, which included a year abroad in Freiburg (Germany) and several summer works in the suburbs of Kolkata (India) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). As a result, she can converse (badly) in five languages (unfortunately, not Bangla anymore!)

As a registrar in pediatrics, she moved to London to become an ID specialist at St Mary's and Great Ormond Street Hospitals, where she joined the 900 Clinic focused on adolescents and sexual health. Back in Spain, she obtained a predoc position at Hospital Gregorio Marañón of Madrid, Spain working on immune activation and cardiovascular risk among vertically HIV-infected children, under Dr. Maria Angeles Muñoz's supervision. While writing her first grant to finance the project, she borrowed a piece of portable ultrasound equipment and drove her motorbike with everything in a backpack (a very heavy one!) to join the HIV clinics. Every day she would go to a different hospital in Madrid, to enroll children in the study. This work, along with lab work on T cell and inflammatory biomarkers, was included in her PhD dissertation, which she wrote mostly over her six months stay at UCSF in 2013, while unraveling the mysteries of the CD4/CD8 ratio under the supervision of Dr. Steven Deeks. She obtained several awards, including a two-year European grant to pursue her research career.

Today, she works as a pediatrician at the Pediatric ID Department of Hospital la Paz in Madrid. At the outpatient clinic, she is mostly devoted to HIV, screening of tuberculosis and imported diseases in children. She is responsible for the specific STD clinic for adolescents (which means a lot of PREP and a lot of patience) and, in recent years has been involved in the creation of the Social Pediatrics Clinics at her Hospital. Over the last 10 years, she has managed to combine clinical work with research, mostly in the field of vertical HIV infection, secondary inflammation and immuno-activation, and comorbidities (especially cardiovascular risk and neurocognitive issues). Today, she leads a small research group that focuses on vertical HIV infection, other congenital infections, host-pathogen interaction, and the role of the human microbiome in health and diseases in children. She has obtained consecutive public funding since 2013, when she launched a pilot trial to analyze the potential effect of pre/probiotics to enhance vaccine response in HIV-infected children. In 2020, the group open a new research line aimed at the development of new diagnostic techniques for pediatric infectious diseases (including HIV, Tuberculosis, congenital CMV and parasitosis).
Since 2015 she has collaborated with UNICEF/ Penta Network and the Spanish Ministry of Health to teach the management of pediatric HIV infection in resource-limited settings.

As visiting scholar, she is excited to get involved in the ongoing translational projects related to the inflammatory consequences of HIV and CMV infection. Her trajectory is clinical, but she expects to get familiar with the lab, improve her analytical skills and acquire a translational perspective in immunology and host-pathogen interaction, to apply to pediatric research once she returns to Madrid.

In the meantime, Talía has managed to find time to have two boys and a girl, aged now 11, 8 and 5, who keep her entertained. She loves hiking, camping, rock climbing and open-air activities in general. Talía is passionate about classic films, books, and music from the nineties. Before all her time went to maternity and science, she loved ceramics and painting.