PES Fellow Spotlight: Samuel Cortez, MD
I have been committed to working with underserved and marginalized populations throughout my residency at the University of Kansas and medical school in El Salvador. Currently I am a Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. I am also a Postdoctoral Clinical Research Fellow through the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science and part of the executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Endocrinology. Pediatric Endocrinology represents an opportunity to help develop and nurture a human being to their full potential, particularly when providing gender-affirming care. As a Pediatric Endocrine Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, my goal is to continue to nurture my strong interpersonal skills, my commitment to underserved and marginalized patient populations, and my drive to advance the clinical field through research to take excellent care of patients.
My curiosity drives me to address gaps in the field and improve standards for patient care. While in residency, I received the Researcher of the Year Award because of my work focused on cystic fibrosis patients, examining how the chronic use of inhaled corticosteroid may lead them to develop adrenal insufficiency. I also developed a curriculum for a clinical and educational rotation in transgender care in response to the lack of educational components offered by most residency programs. This rotation introduced the residents to the different components of care in the transgender clinic, including affirming medical care, social dynamics, and mental health assessment. Furthermore, I became a stakeholder on health record research by requesting the introduction of transgender demographics into my hospital electronic medical records. I believe in making all parts of the healthcare experience inclusive to all patients, and I will continue to pursue this mission throughout my fellowship and my career.
During residency, I developed a special clinical and research interest in transgender and gender non-conforming patient care, which I have further explored during my fellowship. This passion, with the assistance, guidance, and support of my mentors, Dr. Thomas Baranski, Dr. Ana Maria Arbelaez, and Dr. Ginger Nicol, has translated into different projects. My qualitative study will determine the top research priorities of transgender patients and caregivers. Transgender patients have been overlooked by health care institutions; therefore, current research may not address the most important areas of concern for patients and their caregivers. This study would provide an agenda with patient-oriented research priorities. I am also conducting a pilot randomized clinical trial assessing the degree of testosterone suppression and pro-thrombotic changes achieved with the different 17-β estradiol dosing regimens in transgender female patients, which will provide information that will serve as the basis for larger RCTs with the goal to provide safe care to our transgender patients.
My overall career goal is to develop my combined expertise as a clinician and as a researcher in the field of gender-affirming medical care for youth and young adults. My first steps in achieving this goal were to obtain a training grant as part of my acceptance into the TL1 Translational Sciences Postdoctoral Program. This provided me with the opportunity to obtain formal clinical research training through the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation, which I will complete at the same time I complete my fellowship training. So far, with my amazing mentorship team, our projects have been awarded a total of $65,000 in funding.
Throughout medical school and residency, I learned I excel when I seek new challenges and cultivate skills that serve patients and colleagues. As I embark on the last track of my fellowship training, I am excited for what is to come for me, my patients, and the future of pediatric endocrinology.