February 16, 2005

Martin Farias, III, began doing experiments as a young boy. His natural curiosity seemed to grow out of a need to know why things circulated the way they did.

In his youth, it was the circulation of fish in a pond that fascinated Farias. “When I’d go fishing, I’d make a mark with the hook on the fish to see if I could catch it again. I always wondered where it would be the next day,” Farias said. “Actually, one time I did catch the same fish about a month later.”

That affinity toward circulation grew as he matured, and Farias himself circulated. Born in Brownsville, Farias moved to San Antonio for his undergraduate education, earning a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Our Lady of the Lake University.

“I went there because it was a small campus,” Farias said. “You get one-on-one contact with the professors.”

From San Antonio, Farias made his way back to the University of Texas at Brownsville and a cooperative training program between the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

It was during his years at the health science center that Farias’ abiding interest in circulation became a passion. Now what fascinates Farias is circulation of a different type—coronary circulation.

His research at the health science center resulted in publications in the American Journal of Physiology and his PhD in physiology. Farias also earned a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington’s Department of Physiology, where he has continued his research on coronary circulation, resulting in several other publications.

In addition to his natural curiosity, what has driven Farias is his dedication to educational access and opportunities for minority students. For these efforts, Farias was named a Minority Access National Alumnus Role Model Award winner at the Role Models Award Banquet in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Farias symbolizes Minority Access’ ideal alumnus role model—one who has made significant contributions to biomedical research and can be viewed as a role model to minority students,” said Andrea Mickle, president and chief executive officer of Minority Access Inc.

Minority Access Inc. is a non-profit educational organization that supports individuals; institutions; federal, state and local governmental agencies; and various corporations to diversify campuses and work sites by improving the recruitment, retention and enhancement of minorities.

The Role Models’ Conference was created from a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and Minority Access Inc. to focus national attention on people who have excelled in producing and supporting minority researchers, particularly in the biomedical sciences and health-related fields.

“I’m really honored to receive this award,” Farias said. “My goal is to become a professor and perform cardiovascular research. I also think it is important to create more opportunities of access for minorities.”

Robert Kaman, JD, PhD, associate dean and director of outreach for the health science center, praised Farias’ dedication to giving back to minority students. Kaman was instrumental in recruiting Farias into the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Bridges to the Doctorate Degree program.

“Martin Farias continues to be a fine example of the American Dream in education–where hard work and dedication allow young men and women from all backgrounds to achieve the highest level of scholarship that our society has to offer,” Kaman said. “But Martin has gone further than just achieving his own lofty goals–from the beginning of our association he has continued to reach back, encourage and assist those students who are following him. He has raised the bar for those students in both science and society, and his success in each inspires them, as well as those faculty who have been fortunate enough to know him.”

Farias, his wife Valerie and their children currently live in Washington, but they will be circulating to Louisiana Sate University Health Science Center this summer for Martin’s second post-doctoral fellowship.

The two met at the Founders’ Activity Center on the health science center campus when Valerie was working in the pediatrics department. Valerie is from Saginaw, and her parents, Cleto and Rosa Salazar, still live in Saginaw, so a return to the area might be in the future for the Fariases and a position at the health science center is not out of the question.

“That would be nice, to come back,” Farias said.


Contact: Kay Colley 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail kacolley@hsc.unt.edu.

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