DMC Biotechnology graduate’s research published in prestigious scientific journal
Article by: Michael Bratten
Studying radiology at Del Mar College (DMC) 11 years ago and looking for something to satisfy his passion for science and problem-solving, Carlos Ramos decided to take a chance on a then-fledgling program called Biotechnology. The decision put him on a career path he had never imagined and, last month, resulted in a new accolade: published research scientist.
“It feels good to have my first publication. For a scientist, showing the world the results of your research is the pinnacle,” said Ramos, 37, whose research on wound healing is published in Nature Communications, a prestigious scientific journal that covers the natural sciences (https://go.nature.com/2mDZZHv). “Two or three years down the road, this paper might help someone else doing research. That’s what I like…knowing I contributed to the scientific community as a whole.”
Ramos, a senior research technician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, collaborated with eight other scientists on the publication, titled “SOX11 and SOX4 drive the reactivation of an embryonic gene program during murine wound repair.” Their research examines skin-wound healing at the molecular level and genes that play a role in the process.
“Our lab discovered two molecular mechanisms, SOX11 and SOX4, that regulate genes and turn damaged skin cells into regenerated, normal skin cells,” Ramos said. “This happens when you get cut and you have a scab, which eventually falls off. The skin growth under that scab is what we’re looking at. These mechanisms are still not well-understood in research.”
The first in his family to receive associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, Ramos said scientific research wasn’t always his obvious career path. After graduating from W.B. Ray High School, he would have been satisfied with an average, workaday job. But, he recalled, his sister encouraged him to dream bigger and enroll at DMC.
“I found my passion for science in the Biotechnology program,” Ramos said. “I like to solve problems, especially when it comes to diseases and genes and how they link to cancer.”
Ramos was among the first cohort of students to graduate from DMC’s Biotechnology program in 2012. He was a standout student who earned an internship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as well as a lab assistant position under his mentor at Del Mar, Daiyuan “Daisy” Zhang, PhD, associate professor of Biotechnology.
“Carlos is exceptionally detail-oriented and patient when it comes to science,” Zhang said. “He enjoys the exploration process. He’s a true scientist."
It’s really special for one of our students to be published in Nature because it’s a journal that’s well-respected all over the world. Once you get published in Nature, the next step for a lot of scientists is the Nobel Prize.
After Del Mar, Ramos went on to graduate from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a bachelor’s degree in Cell/Molecular Biology. A job offer at Baylor came soon after.
His employers at Baylor were impressed by his laboratory skills, Ramos said.
They didn’t have to teach me as many things as they had thought. My skills translated into a job instantly. I was comfortable with the lab and the techniques because of everything I learned at Del Mar College.
Rewarding careers in biotechnology are attainable for students like Ramos who are motivated and have an interest in science, said John “Rob” Hatherill, PhD, DMC professor of Biology.
“We’re seeing more students like Carlos excelling in biotechnology. They have this program right here in their backyard and they’re finding that, if they continue and stay on track, their potential for growth is unlimited. It’s great to see that.”
Ramos’ story also has a romantic angle. He and his girlfriend, Tamara Griffiths, met on their first day in the Biotechnology program. They share a love for science, worked together as lab assistants at DMC, and they now live together in Houston. Griffiths is a senior research assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ramos said.
Zhang said as lab assistants, the couple were instrumental in helping her develop and teach a class on cell cultures within the Biotechnology program.
Ramos is considering pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in the future, but for the time being, he sees endless possibilities in research.
“Biotech and cancer research are big in Houston,” he said. “Our plans are to stay here and do as much as possible in the area of cancer research.”
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.