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UTHSC News: Longtime Brain Researcher ‘Driven by Curiosity’


Alex Dopico, MD, PhD, received his first chemistry set from his parents when he was 7 years old. Four years later, they gave him a magazine about the lives of great scientists.

He remembers reading about 19th century British chemist John Dalton and his ideas about atoms and molecules. “With the ingenuity of a child, I thought diseases could be understood at the molecular level,” Dr. Dopico says. “I always wanted to be a scientist.”

Today, Dr. Dopico is the Harriet Van Vleet Chair of Excellence and a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Addiction Science, and Toxicology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

In his native Argentina, he entered medical school, yet he never lost his love for fundamental research. Dr. Dopico recalls treating cardiovascular and hypertensive patients in the morning and working on research experiments from afternoon into the late night.

After earning first an MD and then a PhD from the University of Buenos Aires, he had a hard decision to make. He felt he could not give his best to his patients or to science by splitting time between the two.

“As rewarding as taking care of patients was, I could not give up the need that I have had since childhood to know and to discover new things,” he says.

Dr. Dopico ultimately chose research and has spent his career fulfilling that need to know. His long-funded research has focused on various aspects of the role of vascular and neuronal ion channels in physiology and disease.

Read more at our UTHSC news site.