Since arriving in the United States from her native Puerto Rico 6½ years ago, Angelica Marie Garcia has made quite a splash both in her current post as an Intramural Research Training Award scientist and with her beloved pastime, water polo.
Garcia works in the laboratory of National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Dr. William Gahl, under the supervision of Dr. Meral Gunay-Argun. Her research focuses on autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. A 2005 graduate of California State University at Long Beach, where she made the dean's list, the young researcher, when not in the lab, spends much of her time in the water. As a member of the Puerto Rican women's national water polo team, she and her teammates have set their sights on the 2008 Olympic Games in China. This past summer, the squad participated in the Pan American Games in Brazil.
"I've always loved the game," said Garcia, who began playing water polo when she was 14. The sport demands exceptional physical conditioning and swimming skills. The young investigator thrives not only on the physical demands of the game, but also on the intense competition. She thought seriously about going professional, but ultimately opted for research and medicine.
Before coming to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Garcia was a fellowship scholar under the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement, a National Institute of General Medical Sciences-supported program at Cal State. While an undergraduate, she was named an NCAA first-team All-American in water polo, one of only seven female collegians picked for the honor.
Her athletic prowess and accomplishments notwithstanding, Garcia plans to attend medical school. Afterwards, she said, "What I really hope is to eventually work with underserved communities that don't have access to medical care. There is a great need for this service."
When not in her NHGRI lab or the pool, Garcia volunteers in outreach programs in the D.C. area and also enjoys traveling, dancing and reading.
She says both water polo and scientific research have their own respective challenges. Regarding water polo, "it's a physical thing," and with medicine, added Garcia, "you always have your academic and intellectual challenges. I find it very stimulating." — Jan Ehrman
Reprinted with permission, NIH Record, December 14, 2007
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Last Reviewed: May 16, 2010