Carolina Solis-Herrera, MD, assistant professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) Clinical Scientist Development Award. Dr. Solis-Herrera’s innovative and high-impact research focuses on sodium-glucose transport protein 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, a class of medications used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Hers was the only diabetes-related project among the 20 selected from a total of 254 submissions from around the country and the only project led by a physician-scientist in the Southwestern United States, including Texas.
Inspired from an early age to make lives better
Growing up in Sonora, Mexico, Dr. Solis-Herrera, medical director of the Diabetes Clinic at UT Health Physicians’ Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), knew from the age of 5 that she wanted to have a positive impact in helping people live healthier and therefore happier lives. She knew the effects of living with diabetes from family members and people in her community.
Solis-Herrera recalls that the more she learned how the human body works as a medical student and resident, the more intrigued she became. “This led me to pursue my career as a physician-scientist, as this combination has the ability to make a more significant impact and translate to new discoveries and ways of providing better patient care and health outcomes,” she said.
Board-certified in Mexico, Dr. Solis-Herrera accepted a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in diabetes and metabolic research at UT Health San Antonio. With it came the opportunity to be mentored by world diabetes expert Ralph DeFronzo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Diabetes, and deputy director of the Texas Diabetes Institute. He is renowned for his breakthroughs and seminal discoveries in Type 2 diabetes research during the past 40 years.
Private foundations and mentors key to achieving research objectives
Dr. Solis-Herrera considers herself fortunate to be surrounded by encouraging mentors and the ability to collaborate with a prestigious interdisciplinary team on her SGLT2 research project. In addition to Dr. DeFronzo, MD, she works with Nicholas Musi, MD, director of the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies; Sara Espinoza, MD, director of the San Antonio Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center and a member of the Barshop Institute; Peter Fox, MD, director of the Research Imaging Institute (RIC); Geoffrey Clark, PhD, chief of the RIC’s MRI division; Curtis Triplitt, PharmD, the TDI’s associate director of clinical research; Eugenio Cersosimo, MD, PhD, the TDI’s medical director of research; Allen Anderson, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiology; and Robert Chilton, DO, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the Audie Murphy VA Medical Center and UT Health San Antonio.
The new award expands the cardio-metabolic research supported by the Voelcker Fund in 2018. The DDCF-funded research will explore the effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on cardiac and skeletal muscle bioenergetics, cardiopulmonary function and quality of life. Click here to watch and listen as Dr. Solis-Herrera explains the study.
Seeking community participants for novel SGLT2 studies
To inquire about eligibility to join Dr. Solis-Herrera’s study, call Jane Qin at (210) 358-7236 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in an SGLT2 clinical trial for older adults with prediabetes or other aging or longevity research studies at the Barshop Institute, please call (210) 450-3333 or click here.