Vera Krymskaya was thrilled to cast her first vote as an American citizen on Nov. 2 at the polling place in St. Paul’s Church in Chestnut Hill. (Photo by Peggy Bradley)

By Peggy Bradley
Let me tell you about my friend and neighbor, Vera Krymskaya, 50, who lives on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Last Tuesday was her first time voting as an American citizen. Although she has lived in this country for 14 years and Chestnut Hill for the last four, she was granted citizenship just last summer, during a very busy period for herself and her friends. Too busy for us to get together to celebrate a special accomplishment for Vera, which was a shame. Accompanying her for her first vote was a small gesture of friendship and a joyous occasion, worthy of pictures.

I have never met anyone who embraced the spirit and values of the American Ethic like Vera. Originally from Ukraine, Vera came from Russia as an accomplished scientist to earn her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Vera, who is single, immerses herself in her research and the grant writing that supports her work. Her parents still live in Ukraine. Here is a small biography from the Penn website:

“Dr. Krymskaya’s research interests are in the signal transduction mechanisms of vascular and airway smooth muscle cell remodeling in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), asthma and COPD; and cellular and molecular mechanisms of rare lung diseases. Dr. Krymskaya has dedicated the last several years of her career to combating pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). Krymskaya’s lab was responsible for the breakthrough step of discovering the function of the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 (TSC2) gene.

Dr. Krymskaya’s study linked mutational inactivation of TSC2 in human LAM cells to the constitutive activation of mTOR/S6K1 signaling pathway and abnormal LAM cell growth. Dr. Krymskaya has also dramatically advanced translational LAM research by demonstrating that rapamycin inhibits LAM cell growth.

This discovery identified rapamycin as a promising therapeutic strategy for LAM patients, and paved the way for rapamycin clinical trials worldwide. For this achievement Dr. Krymskaya has honored by The Science Advancement Award from The LAM Foundation.”

What is missing from the biography is the mention of Vera becoming the first tenured female Ph.D in the Department of Medicine at the first medical school in the U.S. Pretty cool.

I met Vera when she bought her first American home on the corner of our block.  She loves her house, her neighbors and Chestnut Hill.  Her enthusiasm for the American freedoms is limitless. She is proud of her accomplishments and works tirelessly to support her lab and her American citizenship. When she is not working, she plays her Baby Grand piano, walks in the Wissahickon and reads American history.

Visiting with neighbors and sharing a glass of wine is a big part of our friendship. When talking with Vera, I am often reminded of how fortunate I am to live here in this neighborhood, this city, this state and this country. Her enthusiasm is contagious. So is her friendship.

Peggy Bradley has lived in Chestnut Hill for 12 years. She is a teacher at the Hill-Freedman Middle School, adjacent to Martin Luther King High School. “We were just made the first International Baccaleureate Middle School in the district,” she told us. “Our students are terrific, and we are a model school. Amazing for Philadelphia, really!”