A Slam Dunk: From National Championships to Medical School

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Eduardo Urias

Eduardo Urias and his family have a love for basketball. Born in El Paso, Urias grew up in Juarez, Mexico playing the game and winning national championships in 2004 and 2006.


“Growing up, basketball was huge in my family,” Urias said. “I have a picture of me less than a year old with my dad playing basketball. So when I went to school, it was not an option to play, but a given that the game would be a part of my life.”


Urias remembers vividly the hard work and effort put into training and playing the sport to reach and win the championship games. During the 2006 national championship, he was named the most valuable player.


“Standing there and hearing my name called was awesome,” Urias said. “My mom came running from the crowd and was so proud and excited.”


bballThat same work ethic he showed with basketball would later be redirected to the other love in his life – science. Urias was accepted to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and quickly realized that juggling both science and basketball my not be realistic.  He instead dedicated himself to focusing on science and completing his undergraduate degree in physics with a medical concentration.


While at UTEP, he conducted molecular biology research in cancer pathology and HIV. Urias worked with Manuel Llano, Ph.D., his mentor. His contributions to some of those projects led to publications in peer-reviewed journals and led to also studying at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University.


While at Johns Hopkins University, Urias had the opportunity to research cellular aging and at Columbia University investigate how cells talk to each other to signal the start or stop of growth. The research was an exciting experience for him and led him to apply for medical school.


“Interview day was the deal maker for me as to choosing the TTUHSC School of Medicine,” Urias said. “It felt so much like a place I would spend four years. I also was accepted into the M.D./MBA program. Medicine happens as a business and the better you understand the business the better you can treat your patients. “


Urias said he had two big influences in his life who taught him the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Both his uncle Juan Castorena, M.D., and his pediatrician, Roberto Canales, M.D., provided him with vivid memories of healing patients and being their advocate.


“I admired them so much because they connected so well to their patients and the mom who is feeling worse sometimes,” Urias said. “I respected that and wanted to do the same thing.”


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Urias and family at the 2016 White Coat Ceremony

And just as he always will remember his national championships, recently Urias, along with 179 other first-year medical school students, had a similar moment of accomplishment as they received their first white coats at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.


“When I received my white coat, it was the best feeling in the world,” Urias said. “Wow, this is really happening. It is really humbling, but also very empowering. With the white coat comes a great responsibility of what is expected of you as a physician and incredibly high standard of ethics. It’s a great feeling.”


Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.

School of Medicine

School of Medicine

Since 1969, the School of Medicine has graduated more than 3,000 physicians. The school aims to provide quality lab space, recruit creative, innovative research faculty, and develop graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for lifelong careers in medical research.

Today, more than 20 percent of the practicing physicians in West Texas have graduated from the School of Medicine or its residency programs.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center


Beginning in 1969 as the Texas Tech University School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) is now a five-school university with campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas/Fort Worth, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa.

TTUHSC offers students the opportunity to expand knowledge in programs that are on the forefront of health care education. Our programs and facilities give students the opportunity for hands-on research and clinical experience, and various collaborations with community entities provide students the practical knowledge that is vital to their success.

Almost 50 years since opening, TTUHSC has now trained more than 20,000 health care professionals, and meets the health care needs of more than 2.5 million people in the 108 counties including those in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.

Through research, education and patient care, TTUHSC aims to promote a greater health environment for West Texas and beyond. We strive to decrease health disparities for rural populations and improve the health of the community through collaborations with area hospitals and health centers.

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