Member Spotlight

Dr. Claudia Espinosa-Garcia

Instructor, Department of Neurology
School of Medicine, Emory University
AWIS member since 2017

 

“When I was nine years old, my dad was suffering from neurocysticercosis, a brain disease prevalent in developing countries, such as Mexico. At that time, I promised my dad to find a cure one day.”

Claudia Espinosa-Garcia headshot

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

Once you are great, the best way to be greater is helping others to succeed.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

I am a first-generation college graduate and the only woman in my family with a PhD. I believe women, as minorities across the world, face innumerable barriers in STEM. Years ago, I had no one to guide me or advice when I was lost. Nowadays, it is a privilege for me doing what I love for a living. Therefore, besides my work in the lab, I am a member of many organizations supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, AWIS, an organization supporting women success and driving systemic change; SACNAS, a society that aims to further the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American students in science. Additionally, I am part of the FALAN networking that promotes relationships between neuroscience researchers in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the rest of the world. I sincerely hope I can be of be of help to those in need.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

I am a junior faculty who strongly believes that continuous training and receiving expert advice/mentoring from senior colleagues are invaluable resources, which can extensively benefit and promote professional development in academia. I expect to develop further credentials and the track record of academic success needed to achieve my career goals. My long-term career goals are to become an independent researcher and leader in the field of neuroimmunology, establishing my own research program and securing funding for my research, which I believe is the biggest obstacle for foreign scientists in the United States.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

I hope to serve as a mentor that embraces diversity and as a role model for minority students. Recently I joined Rangaju’s Lab, an amazing team that welcomes hard-working and talented STEM professionals.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

I consider AWIS to be a great opportunity to access unique mentoring resources for advancing my career, especially at this early stage, and to have a better understanding of how STEM fields work.

What is your favorite word?

Family

How do you define it?

Among those who are Latinx, family is the most important social unit.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

When I was nine years old, my dad was suffering from neurocysticercosis, a brain disease prevalent in developing countries, such as Mexico. At that time, I promised my dad to find a cure one day. Fortunately, my dad was enrolled in a clinical trial that saved his life. Witnessing how my dad overcame disease inspired me to become a neuroscientist. I am passionate about conducting research to develop new strategies for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

AWIS has been to me an opportunity to build my network, to keep learning from others, to request funding for my research, and to find true support when I need it. I am very proud to be part of this amazing community.

What are you currently listening to?

I can recommend Dr. Nii Addy’s podcast, Addy Hour. He is wonderful.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t look back; keep moving forward. There is always a plan B!

Dr. Claudia Espinosa-Garcia earned a PhD in biomedical sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2015, she joined Emory University as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2017, she was awarded an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship to study the impact of chronic stress on microglial immune response in the ischemic brain. Currently, she is a NARSAD Young Investigator grantee funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Her current research aims to 1) dissect key underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate the CNS immune response and inflammation that drive neurological disease (stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s) and psychiatric comorbidity (chronic stress, depression) risk and severity, and to 2) identify targets that can be used in the development of new and more effective treatments for patients.

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