MCR MEDICAL CENTER REPORT

06/11/08

Commencement 2008: The future of biomedicine

Gilbert Martinez

BY TRACIE WHITE

 video Video length: 4:09 min.
  PhD candidate Gilbert Martinez

Gilbert Martinez is somewhat of a rarity: a scientist with a passion for politics.

In his ongoing quest to figure out "how things work," Martinez, a PhD graduate in biophysics, plans next to take his doctoral degree to the nation's capitol where he hopes to someday work in the halls of Congress.

"A lot of scientists don't like to get involved in politics," said Martinez, 29. Ever since he was a kid, he's been fascinated with understanding the fundamental mechanisms that make the world go round, first in science and later in politics. "I think I have the ability as a scientist and as a communicator to help navigate between the two."

Growing up in Las Cruces, N.M., Martinez took apart everything from televisions to watches just so he could put them back together. As he grew older, he found the same satisfaction through the study of math and science. Martinez was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Washington before coming to Stanford.

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His doctoral thesis focused on the structural mechanisms of chloride transport across membranes. The research could lead to advances in the treatment of Bartter syndrome, a rare kidney disease that's most severe in children.

When he was at Stanford, Martinez discovered his penchant for politics. He worked as chair of BioMASS (BioMedically Affiliated Stanford Students), a student advocacy group that helped set up a career center at the medical school. He also became active in local politics campaigning for his roommate, who won a spot on the Palo Alto City Council. That has led Martinez to Washington, D.C., where he hopes to help bridge the gap between science and public policy working with a non-profit agency to promote the advancement of sciences in developing nations.

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