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.”


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