Raised in El Paso, Texas, as the youngest of four children, Marcos Lopez was drawn to the practice of medicine by observing his father, a family physician.
He stayed in Texas for his undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Trinity University in San Antonio. Marcos interviewed at Mayo Medical School in January 2006 and knew "Mayo would be my top choice if I was offered a position because of its core values and the fantastic people I met."
When he started medical school at Mayo, Marcos didn't intend to pursue a career that included research. A friend told him about the M.D.-M.S. Program, which led Marcos to investigate. He enrolled in the program in 2009.
"Clinical and translational research is incredible in that it really focuses on increasing knowledge with the direct goal of improving patient care and outcomes. By being trained in clinical and translational research, I hope to improve medicine by increasing our collective knowledge in the science and application of treatments," he says.
A hearty interest
Marcos' broad interest is cardiovascular research — essentially, anything to do with the heart and blood vessels.
"The cardiovascular system is amazing, complex and has many things that can go wrong with it," he says. "This obviously leads to people experiencing a number of terrible diseases. I feel that if I can increase our knowledge about various aspects of this system, I can help people with cardiovascular diseases."
Marcos' passion is palpable, and his vision of how his clinical and translational research studies will help him improve the lives of patients is straightforward, but exciting. "It can be as simple as looking at what the most effective treatment is for a group of people — or finding the spark necessary to start researching a different approach to treating or managing a disease," he explains.
Marcos also says that having research training will prepare him to better judge published research, which will enable him to offer his patients the best, cutting-edge treatments.
Success through mentorship
Anesthesiologist and active investigator Michael J. Joyner, M.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., was Marcos' primary mentor, though he was also mentored by Dr. Joyner's colleagues, such as research fellow Darren P. Casey, Ph.D. Marcos says he's certain that his successful completion of M.D.-M.S. Program was in large part due to help and guidance from his mentors.
In addition to the mentorship, Marcos valued the resources available to him and the high-quality patient care at Mayo Clinic. He says, "I appreciate most that people who work at Mayo Clinic are all focused on improving the lives of the people who trust us by coming here. People at every level of the institution are proud of Mayo's reputation as being arguably the best place for health care in the world, and they work hard to keep that true."