COM student sets his sights on curing blindness
Gavin Roddy has a simple goal – curing the main causes of blindness.
A third-year medical student in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine, Roddy is testing therapies for currently untreatable eye diseases. He envisioned medical school from his interest in medical research and decided pursuing both a medical and graduate degree would be best for his career.
And, he found the TAMHSC-College of Medicine was the right fit.
“I found it exciting that scientists could answer previously unknown questions through carefully designed experiments, and these results could have potential to provide novel therapies to patients with previously untreated diseases,” Roddy said. “I saw this as an opportunity to join a university that was clearly committed to the advancement of scientific discoveries.”
Roddy works with Darwin Prockop, M.D., Ph.D., director of the TAMHSC-College of Medicine Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Scott & White, inaugural holder of the Stearman Chair in Genomic Medicine, and professor of molecular and cellular medicine at the college. He studies adult stem/progenitor cells from bone marrow, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and the therapeutic proteins they produce.
According to Roddy’s dissertation, recent reports attribute benefits of the MSCs to the secretion of therapeutic factors, an anti-inflammatory protein and an apoptotic protein. They tested the stem cell-related therapies in models of corneal and retina damage, and the MSCs and proteins prevented scarring by suppressing early inflammation and reduced photoreceptor loss by reducing oxidative stress.
Though Roddy has a budding academic career, he also has spent time serving as a leader to his peers, particularly in the Texas Medical Association Medical Student Section (TMA MSS). He recently stepped down as the chair of the TMA MSS and now will serve as immediate past chair. The chair’s responsibility is to lead and set the agenda for each meeting.
During Roddy’s time as chair, students showed a marked increase in applying for boards, councils, committees and executive council positions.
“As an M.D./Ph.D. student, I had a greater number of years from many great mentors,” said Roddy, who made it his No. 1 goal to pass on to other students to “increase student involvement and enthusiasm for caring for patients through organized medicine.”
Roddy is confident his experience with the TMA MSS will help him take better care of his patients in the future. He recently applied to pursue residency training in ophthalmology with the goal of becoming a vitreoretinal surgeon.
“It is my goal to care for patients from the clinic and operating room through laboratory research and through advances in public health,” Roddy said.
In his personal life, Roddy and his wife are involved with a new church in Temple and enjoy taking care of their 5-month-old son.