Valeria Vásquez, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been named among the Top 100 Inspiring Hispanic-Latinx Scientists in America. The list was compiled by the scientific blog, Cell Mentor (Cell Press), in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Honorees were selected based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“It is such an honor to be on this list,” Dr. Vásquez said. “Aside my scientific research, I am currently president of the Latin American Biophysical Society and councilor for the Society of General Physiologists, where I am working toward promoting diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments in science. “I have been very lucky to count on excellent mentors to navigate academia and achieve my professional goals. Not everyone has the same fortune or the same opportunities. Hence, I would like to pay back by helping underrepresented minorities to achieve their goals, regardless of their background.”
Dr. Vasquez’s laboratory studies the mechanism by which dietary fatty acids modulate the function of the sensory ion channels responsible for feeling pain. “We use electrophysiology, biochemistry, spectroscopy, and behavior to answer these questions,” she said. “If we can find out how these channels are modulated by dietary lipids, we can create and develop therapeutic treatments to reduce pain and inflammation.”
“We are so delighted for and inspired by Dr. Vásquez,” said Scott Strome, MD, Robert Kaplan Executive Dean and vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs for the UTHSC College of Medicine. “She represents the very best of who we are and who we aspire to be in the College of Medicine — a place where everyone works collaboratively to create new knowledge that improves the lives of our patients.”