Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2024

Title:Building diversity in the sciences

Author: Karen Doss Bowman
Date Published: January 12, 2024
a man with curly brown hair stands in a lab coat in a lab
Filgueira hopes to start a nonprofit organization that will encourage teenagers from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Photo: Yara Zayas

For Andres Filgueira (G’23), the emphasis Georgetown Biomedical Graduate Education (BGE) places on inclusivity and innovation has been just as vital as the program’s commitment to academic excellence. As part of a diverse bioinformatics cohort, Filgueira has made meaningful connections with promising young scientists from a wide range of backgrounds.

“At Georgetown, I’ve found an environment that brought the best out of me, both in and out of the classroom,” says Filgueira, a 2022 Hoyas for Science Scholarship recipient from Florida, who lived part of his childhood in his mother’s hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. “Georgetown pushed me out of my comfort zone to embrace new opportunities.”

Filgueira, who holds bachelor’s degrees in history and biology, graduated in December 2023 with a master’s degree in bioinformatics. This emerging field combines principles of computer programming and biology to shed light on genetic sequences and protein functions in certain diseases, such as cancer.

Having lost friends to substance abuse disorder, Filgueira came to Georgetown with an interest in exploring the relationship between genetics and drug addiction. As an intern at Moffitt Cancer Center (MCC) in Tampa, Florida, he’s had the opportunity to continue his focus in this area. He’s part of an interdisciplinary team working to identify genes that indicate a higher susceptibility to opioid addiction in cancer patients.

“This research has significant implications for cancer research, as it uncovers the link between addiction, genetics, and cancer-related concerns,” explains Filgueira. “By identifying genetic markers and pathways, our goal is to deepen our understanding of the genetic and molecular factors underlying addiction. Hopefully, these findings will contribute to advancements in personalized medicine and targeted interventions, bridging the gap between drug addiction and cancer research.”

Looking to the future, Filgueira plans to start a nonprofit organization to empower teenagers from underrepresented populations by guiding them through college preparation. He also hopes to encourage them to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“Empowering underserved groups and promoting diversity in the STEM fields is crucial to me,” says Filgueira. “I believe everyone has the potential for brilliance, but not all of us receive the same opportunities to realize our abilities. Despite diversity becoming a politically charged term recently, it’s indispensable in STEM, fueling innovation and fostering perspectives that are essential for pushing the boundaries of what we know and can achieve.”

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