MD Candidate (2014)
University of Puerto Rico
School of Medicine, San Juan, P.R.
jonathan.velez5@upr.edu

I am a Second year “Medical-diabetic” student at the UPR-RCM, interested in the field of Endocrinology. Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders have captured my attention ever since I started acquiring knowledge about Biochemical Pathways in college. As I was learning about them, I could finally understand some mechanisms underlying my Diabetes (diagnosed on February 2001). My only goal in life, as simple as it sounds but as complex as it will be, is to engage in laboratory research and clinical work in order to “deliver” my knowledge to the world, Diabetics and non-Diabetics.

 

On 2010, I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus with a B.S. in General Sciences. Currently, I am focused on learning about healthcare disparities, with emphasis on how to improve access to care in underserved communities and ethnic minorities. Hispanics (11.8%) and Non-Hispanic Blacks (12.6%) have the highest rates of diagnosed Diabetes Mellitus in the USA. From the Hispanic population, Puerto Ricans occupy 13.8% followed by Mexicans with 13.3% prevalence. (National Diabetes Fact Sheet, CDC, 2011 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/factsheets.html. Puerto Rico faces a huge Diabetes management deficiency: the high cost in diabetes monitoring equipment, limited insulin pump healthcare plan coverage, limited number of endocrinologists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are among some of the limitations. Everyone deserves the appropriate treatment irrespective of social, age, gender, religious, or economic status. A dogma well indoctrinated during my 8-week summer research internship at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital STARS 2011 Program for minorities that has made a significant difference in me.

As mentioned, STARS was focused on fostering the interests of minority students interested in science and healthcare. It gave me the opportunity to shadow excellent clinicians in the B&W Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Likewise and most importantly, I researched under the mentoring of Dr. Richard Lee in the field of Diabetes! The project was focused on constructing a Fluorescent Biological Glucose Sensor; in other words, create a protein capable of emitting different fluorescence intensities according to blood glucose levels in a Diabetic person. Last but not least, we participated in weekly seminars focused on developing our professional, scientific, and humanistic values.

Most of my research experience I owe it to Dr. Eric Schreiter. More than a mentor, I consider him a friend and an excellent human being. Always available and willing to help me out unconditionally. I conducted research in his laboratory at UPR-Rio Piedras Campus for almost two years. Our work was focused on the field Protein Crystallization and X-Ray diffraction. Under his tutering, I managed to obtain the crystal structure of a fluorescent protein that evaded appropriate X-Ray Diffraction results due to dimerization issues during the nucleation and crystallization stages of the protein: GCaMP2.

Research Experience

Harvard Medical School, Department of Cardiology – June and July 2011.
Richard Lee, MD. “Engineering a cell-based glucose sensor system”

University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras Campus, Department of Biochemistry – 2008-2010
Eric Schreiter, PhD. “Crystal Structures of the GCaMP Calcium Sensor Reveal the Mechanism of Fluorescence Signal Change and Aid Rational Design”.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649101/

University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras Campus, Deparment of Neurobiology – 2007
Carmen Maldonado Vlaar, PhD. “Role of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) subtypes within the NAc subregions in cocaine conditioning”

Poster Presentation

Richard Lee, MD. “Engineering a cell-based glucose sensor system”. Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital STARS 2011 Program: “Presentation Day”