I was born and raised in the beautiful Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico of Mexican/Belizean parents.
I realised from early stages that I had an interest in the Health Sciences. I envisioned myself as a Paediatric Oncologists with a Masters and Doctoral Degree in Gene Therapy. I wanted to find a cure for leukaemia and also treat patients affected by this illness. I went on to Medical School at the Faculty of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Yucatan where I realised that I had an enormous passion for research, especially in subjects related to the endocrine and central nervous systems. A very close friend of mine Raul Piña-Aguilar was a big influence, Raul was always very knowledgeable and pushed me to apply for my first summer research training at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). After this, I took every available opportunity to get involved in research (a second summer school now at UCLA) and had the vision of creating a group to study the effects of metabolic imbalances in the brain, the Metabolic Syndrome Neuropsycho-Endocrinology Study group (GENES, for its name in Spanish; Grupo de Estudio de Neuropsico-Endocrinología del Síndrome metabólico). The group was formed by eager medical students (mostly my friends) and one of my biggest mentors Prof. Julia Pérez-Osorio, and her close collaborator Divia Barrera, MA. We were very lucky to get funding from the university and completed our research evaluating the neuropsychological effects of altered metabolism in patients affected by diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.
As part of my clinical training I did my medical internship at Merida’s Regional Hospital (part of ISSSTE) and took an elective at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University. This year of intense clinical training was very satisfying and, although I enjoyed thoroughly I realised that research was the ‘thing I had to do’. As a consequence I opted to do my Social Service (designed for training in rural hospitals or clinics) in research and moved to the Cell Physiology Institute (IFC, UNAM) under the mentorship of Prof. José Bargas. I finally got the opportunity to do some electrophysiology, recording calcium currents from dissociated striatal cells. I had wanted to do electrophysiology ever since I read Kandel’s Principle of Neural Science in 2005.
After completing my Medical Degree I decided that it was time to take the research option seriously and moved to London where I did first an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at UCL Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, and then moved for my PhD in Genetics, Neuroscience and Biogerontology to the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing. My time in London was great, I did almost everything I would have wanted to explore research wise. My mentor Linda Partridge gave me freedom to explore all my scientific questions. And the people I met both inside and outside of the lab impacted me in many positive ways.
Currently I am based at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School as a Research Fellow under the guidance of Prof. T. Keith Blackwell. I wish to combine the elegant genetics of Caenorahditis elegans with mammalian cells for the identification of the molecular mechanisms regulating the ageing process.
I wish to make people live healthier for longer, to give more dignity and comfort to the end stages of life and, in the process, to be able to prevent and cure some of the devastating diseases of ageing.