Your name, program, dissertation title.
Rolando Trevino Jr, M.S. in Immunology & Infection, Identification of Novel Antischistosomal Drugs
Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health San Antonio, and your program.
I have always been interested in science. Growing up, I always said I was going to be a doctor. I had some heart complications as a newborn and my cardiologist has always been a source of inspiration. I also grew up visiting San Antonio very frequently. I clearly remember telling my parents that I was going to come to school here at UT Health San Antonio. Therefore, I made it my mission to attend school here and live in San Antonio.
I went to a high school that focused on medicine and preparing students for a pre-med career path. At 16, I decided to attend this program that was offered by the university back home in Brownsville, Texas. The Math & Science Academy at UT Brownsville allowed students like me to finish their last two years of high school by taking classes at the university which also sufficed as credits towards the first two years of our bachelor’s degree. After, I transferred to Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. There I completed my undergraduate coursework and graduated with my B.S. in Microbiology with a minor in Biochemistry. Throughout my undergrad I worked in several labs and was exposed to research a lot. I then decided I wanted to do science before I dedicate myself to medicine.
I applied to the Immunology & Infection program. I made it a point to only apply here for graduate school. It was my dream to attend here. I got in. The goal I held onto all these years was finally achieved.
What has been the highlight of graduate school so far?
For me, the highlight of graduate school is realizing the importance of what you’re working on. I always loved working in a lab and running experiments. But, with my project and the work my supervisor has done over the years, I learned how crucial our work is, to saving lives.
Please provide a few sentences summarizing your thesis. What was the experience like for you?
What we do in the LoVerde Lab is work towards identifying a second therapeutic to give alongside the current treatment of Human Schistosomiasis, to those severely affected in endemic regions. This disease is caused by parasitic worms and is a neglected tropical disease. We collaborate with medicinal chemists and structural biologists to reengineer a previously used drug to combat the emerging issue of drug failure. We believe that having two drugs, with their own mechanisms of action, can help combat the resistance seen in the field.
For me, this experience was very rewarding. I was able to help identify a drug that works very well at killing the adult parasites we study. It made me realize that my eyes, observations and interpretation of how these drugs are killing the parasites, can potentially save thousands of lives.
Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?
I found passion in my research topic because of my supervisor. We share ideas and aspirations to help people. He has been to endemic countries, seen the people being affected by this disease and has some incredible experiences that he shares with us in the lab. He puts our science in the real-world context more than other scientists I’ve met. He emphasized how the work we do here has some real potential.
I’ve made the decision to take a year off. I hope to do more science, take time for myself and grow more. I’ve been working and studying since I was 16 and would like a break before the next part of my career path. I will apply to medical school in 2021 in hopes to get in.
Any advice for your fellow graduate students?
My advice for other graduate students is to give it your all. Study hard, network and in the lab work hard too. Care about what you do and always step back to see why what you do is important.