What was your life like growing up and how, if at all, did that play a role in the career you chose?
My early years of life were an immersive experience. I had the fortune of being surrounded by great family role models that took time and energy out of their daily lives to nurture my curiosity and expose me to the arts, cultural studies, and science. I developed an early interest in science and medicine and had full intentions of becoming a doctor and practicing medicine in under served communities. I entered my undergraduate program at UCLA as a Biology/Pre-Med Major, but left with a degree in Cultural and Biological Anthropology, with an emphasis in Applied Anthropology and Research. Anthropology was the bridge between all of the disciplines that I grew to love in my formative years, and has also provided me with skills that I apply directly in my role at CLARE|MATRIX today.
When did you first realize your passion for research?
I realized that I had a passion for research at the age of 16, after participating in a medical youth program at Stanford University (Stanford Medical Youth Science Program). The program exposed me to many careers within the medical science field, including careers in behavioral and biomedical research. Through my participation in that program, I learned that research is a necessary component for the improvement and development of innovative medical practice, and is the conduit for discovery of treatments that have the potential to reach communities with limited treatment options.
How did that lead you to research in the substance use disorder space?
It played a significant factor in my decision to work at Matrix Institute on Addictions. I started my research career at Matrix as a Research Assistant in 2007. I was drawn to the position by the prospect of being able to be part of the conduct of biomedical research within a non-profit organization that prioritized both, providing certified evidence-based treatment services to individuals looking for assistance, and participating as a site in research projects and protocols aimed towards the investigation of potential future treatment options. I saw then, and continue to see, immense value in the continued research of treatment methods and practices for individuals struggling with substance use disorders, the communities that they are part of, as well as the scientific and medical communities.
Could you tell us more about research at CLARE|MATRIX?
We are continuing on a tradition of collaborating with investigators and sponsors that are looking to explore substance use disorder related questions. Our participation is, for the time being, primarily as a participant recruitment and protocol conduct site. The collaborative vision in place is to have multiple research trials taking place simultaneously in our clinical settings, with research and clinical operations coexisting and being conducted alongside each other. Through our continued participation, we aim to contribute to the advancement of treatment methods and practices in our field.
Why is it important that research in this space continues to grow?
The studies provide participating individuals with an additional service option, access to no-cost behavioral therapy, and often motivate them to seek continued treatment after their participation has ended. CLARE|MATRIX is now a larger organization that provides a full-spectrum of services, in a variety of treatment settings. This is of major benefit for our future in research. Our growth has created the conditions for us to be eligible for the conduct of a greater variety of studies, at a greater volume. By expanding our research operations, we will also be expanding our no-cost service options for people in our programs.
What is the most fulfilling part of working at CLARE|MATRIX?
For me, it is knowing that we are providing individuals who are seeking treatment with affordable and accessible care, as well as the opportunity to benefit from a variety of treatment options, all offered in one system.