January 05, 2022
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I joined UTHealth on January 5, 1995, as a research assistant. I was looking for new employment opportunities in the Texas Medical Center, after completing all but my dissertation for my PhD in Psychology and teaching at Houston Community College in their Psychology Department.
Tell me about your work history here.
In January 1995, I began in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Mental Sciences Institute Building.
Since July 2008, I have been in the Department of Neurology.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
From my first day at UTHealth, I have been involved in all phases and aspects of pharmaceutical, non-profit grant-funded, and investigator-initiated clinical trials, for both investigational drugs and investigational medical device trials:
- Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment trials with Dr. Jary Lesser in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to its FDA approval, I worked on numerous trials for Donepezil/Aricept, now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Epilepsy trials with Dr. Jeremy Slater,
- The CREST stroke trial with Dr. Nicole Gonzales, and
- Since 2010, multiple sclerosis trials with the exceptional MS physicians — first led by Dr. Jerry Wolinsky, and now by Dr. J. William Lindsey, in the Department of Neurology.
For a time, I also worked in administration in the Department of Neurology.
I have seen tremendous changes in clinical trial management at UTHealth. I recall attending the first coordinators’ meeting led by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) to discuss the new PHI protection law. I also recall when CPHS announced that iRIS (Integrated Research Information Software) was being launched. Prior to that, all CPHS submissions were paper, with boxfuls of copies for the committee members.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy working with our patients, listening to their concerns, and in general, helping them feel at ease in the clinical trial setting. I very much enjoy working with the physicians, the wonderful nurses and staff (lead by Kathy Franco, RN, and Theresa Dancsak, MSN, RN) in the Clinical Research Unit (CRU), and the terrific staff at the UTHealth Neurosciences Adult Neurology Clinic. In addition, there are those I am very fortunate to have met and still work with since my days in Psychiatry, such as Cynthia Edmonds and Barbara Legate.
I am a native Houstonian who was born in Hermann Hospital. Frequently I am in the area in which I was born, since the CRU is the old Labor and Delivery Unit of Hermann Hospital. On my 50th and 60th birthdays, I took a picture in the unit with a clock showing the time at which I was born.
Why have you stayed?
I enjoy the faculty and staff with whom I work, and working in an academic environment.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
Before earning my psychology degrees, my initial degree was in Radio/Television/Film, and so I enjoy movies and music. I also enjoy reading, spending time with my mother (who is 100 and in good health), and being by the water with Bryan, my partner of 17 years.
I serve as the vice-president of a local social/business networking LGBT organization that has been active in Houston for 43 years.
I have acted in movies, commercials, and community theatre. Prior to the pandemic, I was an usher at The Alley Theatre and at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, and I plan to return to that volunteer activity in the future.