TAMIU Student, Faculty Spend Time with Top Geneticists, Summer 2004

TAMIU Student, Faculty Spend Time with Top Geneticists

This summer, two members of the Texas A&M International University community traveled to Bethesda, MD to learn from some of the most distinguished scientists in the world.

Dr. Mario García-Ríos, associate professor, was invited by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to participate in the 2004 Current Topics in Genomic Research "Short Course." Cesar Bañuelos, '04, participated in the Genome Scholars Program. (photo)

Dr. García-Ríos explained this was a very special and competitive program.

"Only 16 faculty members from across the country were selected to participate in the short course. We met with legendary researchers such as Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NHGRI. I consider him the heir to the throne of Dr. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix," said García-Ríos.

He explained such short courses like that offered by NHGRI are vital to scientists, especially those in more isolated locations like Laredo.

"Unless you go to these courses, you will be out of touch with the field. The course ensures we are teaching state of the art techniques to our students at TAMIU. NIH is the premier biomedical research institute in the world; no other place does so much for the field," he said.

In addition to lectures by top geneticists, faculty attendees received the latest texts with the most current findings. Participants were also able to visit labs and talk to patients.

"The NIH has clinics that deal with rare and chronic diseases and the major killers such as cancer and diabetes. They are using genetic techniques to help these people," explained García-Ríos.

Bañuelos, the student selected to accompany García-Ríos, said his horizons were greatly expanded by the trip.

"My most important discovery was there is so much diversity, so many other jobs. Parents and society, when they hear you're going into biology, they say you should be a doctor, but there are so many other options, such as a Ph.D., or genetic counseling," said Bañuelos, "It's awesome being with all these people who have done so much to better mankind."

Bañuelos is currently applying to medical school in Texas, but hasn't ruled out eventually getting a Ph.D. as well as his medical degree, a combination presenters such as Dr. Collins have.

"It's eight more years of school, but I learned there is money out there to do research, so many chances to do good," said Bañuelos.

Indicating a graphic representing the work of the Human Genome Project as the stone flooring of a building, Bañuelos said, "The first floor of the building has been built. We can be part of history by working at the NIH."

For more information about the Short Course or genetics at TAMIU, please contact García-Ríos at 326.2585, visit offices in the Dr. F.M. Canseco Building, room 313C, or e-mail mgarcia@tamiu.edu.

University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu