‘All I needed was a chance’

April 11, 2018

By Raul Vintimilla, Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Vint Web
 
I had earned my medical degree and finished a three-year hospital residency in Cuenca, Ecuador when I decided to move my family to the United States.

I had discovered during my training that clinical care was not my passion — research was. And the United States was the land of innovative research.

So 23 years ago, my wife, our two young children and I arrived in Fort Worth, and I begin working toward my master’s degree in public health at UNT Health Science Center.

I earned the degree in the early 2000s. But the private research companies where I applied for jobs all told me I had the qualifications but not the experience I needed. I had a family to support. So I instead took a job teaching AP Spanish at Leonard Middle School in Fort Worth.

One year passed. Two years passed. Suddenly 10 years had passed. As much I enjoyed teaching middle school, it wasn’t why I had brought my family to the United States. My wife asked, “When you are going to try research again?”

She was right – I had to try again. In 2012 I found a job posting for a research assistant working for Dr. Sid O’Bryant and Dr. Leigh Johnson in the UNTHSC Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience. At my interview, I told them I knew I didn’t have research experience yet, but all I needed was for someone to give me the chance to try.

Dr. O’Bryant said all he could offer me then was a job making phone calls and handling scheduling for research trials. I told him I’d take it!

So I learned everything from the bottom up. As I proved myself, I gained more responsibility. I got my clinical research coordinator certificate. I started performing neuropsychological testing on research participants and coordinating trials. Under the mentorship of Dr. O’Bryant, Dr. Johnson and Professor James Hall, PhD, I became a contributing author on several published research papers.

Recently, I was informed that my first research paper with me as a first author was accepted for publication in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra. The paper focuses on the link between potassium and mild cognitive impairment.

Today, I am a research scientist and doing what I love. I am grateful to the Health Science Center for making that possible.


Raul Vintimilla, MPH, is a research scientist in the Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Mental Fc
Mental health in grad school

By Jan Jarvis   The thoughts whispering at Anna Black never took a rest – ever. They followed her through junior high, then into college. “I believed I had to be perfect in everything I did,” she said. “Getting a 95 was unacceptable.” For a while, she was able to manage he...Read more

Feb 18, 2019

Debbie Fc
Love for outer space propels librarian into NASA role

By Alex Branch As a child, Debbie Montenegro was the girl who often showed up school in a Yoda, Spock or outer space-themed shirt. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom had to buy those shirts from the boy’s section because they didn’t make those clothes for girls then,” s...Read more

Feb 13, 2019

Flag Fc
TCOM students who serve their country

By Alex Branch All Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates go on to serve the communities in which they practice medicine. But each year, several also elect to serve their country. Five 2019 graduates of UNT Health Science Center’s original medical school will train at U.S. military ...Read more

Feb 12, 2019

Cow Leg Fc
Cowtown Marathon is a family tradition for race’s medical director

By Alex Branch For Jeff Beeson, DO, a personal connection to the Cowtown Marathon began when organizers planned the inaugural 1979 run. His father, Don Beeson, was the chief of police at what was then the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, which founded the marathon. During a planning ...Read more

Feb 11, 2019