Congratulations to Eithan Kotkowski, Ph.D., who is in the South Texas Medical Scientist Training program, on receiving the 2019 Armand J. Guarino Award for Academic Excellence in Doctoral Studies.
The award, named after the founding Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), will be presented at the GSBS convocation, held August 16th, 2019.
The Guarino Award is the highest student recognition given by the Graduate School. As such, it is a tribute to the outstanding accomplishments in biomedical research, the noteworthy leadership and the extensive involvement in service during their tenure as a graduate student. Recipients receive a monetary award and their name is added to the Armand J. Guarino Award plaque that is displayed in the GSBS Dean’s Office.
Eithan, graduated with a Ph.D. in Radiological Sciences — (Neuroscience Imaging track) last May and is currently completing his final two years of medical school at the UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine. His graduate school research focused on characterizing the neuroanatomical and neurocognitive effects of type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome using primary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from the Genetics of Brain Structure and Function image archive, a database containing the medical histories, lipid profiles, brain scans, and psychometric tests of close to 2000 Mexican Americans from the greater San Antonio area housed at the Research Imaging Institute.
His goal was to try to find the connection between insulin resistance and dementia in Mexican Americans using MRI data from real people.
“I initially expected the pattern of brain degeneration to be similar to that seen in Alzheimer’s disease or Mild Cognitive Impairment, as has been suggested by epidemiological studies and animal research. What I found instead was very surprising.”
Kotkowski’s research showed that Metabolic syndrome (a manifestation of insulin resistance) is associated with a pattern of decreased gray matter density that does not match the Alzheimer’s pattern, and is perhaps more closely associated with neurocognitive impairments related to the posterior cerebellum and the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome.
“Metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, obesity, and dyslipidemias are serious problems affecting the world at large and the Mexican-American population in particular. Understanding how this affects clinical health and outcomes from the cognitive and neurological perspective is crucial in creating a system of treatment that emphasizes quality of life.”
He believes that the credit for this award goes to all the people who believed in him and helped him grow as a scientist.
“I am incredibly honored to have received the 2019 Guarino Award and join the ranks of so many talented and distinguished graduate students that have come before me. Though I must mention that my success is in large part due to the people who have supported me throughout graduate school, my friends, the MSTP and Radiology programs, and in particular my mentors and labmates without whom I would be totally lost.”
“Our South Texas MSTP is very proud of Eithan’s scientific accomplishments, and we look forward to his future contributions to science and medicine,” said Dr. José E. Cavazos, assistant dean & director of the
South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program.