Hugo Giambini is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am originally from Argentina, Buenos Aires, the oldest of three brothers, a husband, and a future dad of a beautiful little girl. I moved with my family to the US (Miami, FL) in 2001 when I was 20 years old. I’m a fan of soccer, music, and barbeque, or asados as we call it. I’m family oriented, a biomedical engineer, and a translational orthopedic scientist.
What is your job title and what do you do?
I am currently an Assistant Professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering at UTSA and an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedics at UT Health. My job can be divided in university, college, and departmental administrative tasks, teaching, and research. Like the saying, “find a job that you like, and you will never work a day in your life,” I feel I am never working. I love my job, my research field, colleagues, and students I get to interact with.
What brought you to UTSA?
In addition to the city and the weather, the short answer is the potential for growth and opportunities. Potential to grow individually as a scientist and as an educator in a minority institution, but also to bring a different vision and perspective that will contribute to a continuous growth of the department and university so it can be established as a leading research institution. There are many opportunities for growth, including interaction with students who always have questions and challenge our thinking, and collaborative research opportunities with various industries or medical institutions.
Tell us about your research and what led you to your field.
My research can be categorized as orthopedic research. Having trained at the Mayo Clinic with an outstanding primary mentor and secondary mentors, provided me with the opportunity to be involved in many different areas and learn various techniques. My research spans from molecular and cell biology, to biomechanics of tissues, imaging using medical equipment (CT, MRI, ultrasound), and modeling and simulations. All of these different approaches are implemented and used in the setting of rotator cuff tears and bone fracture prediction. Our rotator cuff tear research relates to the implementation of novel imaging techniques to better guide surgery and predict re-tear of surgical repairs. We also aim to better understand the soft tissues in the rotator cuff and how these different muscles interact to allow for proper shoulder function and motion. Our other line of research involves developing computer models based on patient specific clinical images to better predict fracture properties of bones in the setting of osteoporosis and cancer metastasis.
I became passionate about developing predictive tools that we could eventually bring to the clinical setting to improve patient quality of life. In our lab, we are currently working with the goal to develop new techniques and approaches that can aid surgeons, physicians, physical therapist, or others in the clinic with the final goal of improving patient outcomes.
Tell us about your college education. Where did you get your bachelor’s degree? Masters, etc.
I started my Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in the year 2000 in Argentina. After moving to the US, I was accepted as a freshman in BME at Florida International University in 2002. Towards the end of my freshmen year I got involved in a cell and molecular biology lab where I was fortunate to learn various techniques and perform research. In the year 2005, I did a summer research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and I received my B.S. degree in 2007. Post-graduation, I worked in industry for a year designing, fabricating, and testing biodegradable coronary stents. In the year 2008, I was accepted into the Ph.D. program in BME at the Mayo Clinic, where I graduated in 2013. I then continued doing research as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, then a Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow, Research Associate, and finally as an Assistant Professor in Orthopedics before moving to UTSA in 2018.
Did you go to college with the intention of getting the job you have now? If not, explain how you came to the position you’re in now in at the university. Any other jobs lead you here?
I think when we start our career we have an idea of what we think we want to do in the future. Although a fun fact, I remember watching the movie Terminator back in high school and thinking, “I want to design bionic arms.” I did all of my B.S. in BME thinking that I was going to be involved in that type of job or research. Toward the end of my degree, in our senior design project, we designed and manufactured a spine implant to treat vertebral fractures and degeneration. This project paved the road to my current research interests.
When did you start to become interested in engineering?
All through high school, I would meet with my friends and we would take our cars apart, fixing new issues, or maybe fixing problems we had created the previous week. I guess cars back then were easier to fix, with simpler engines and no computers. Mechanics, robotics, and the complex human body have always been an interest of mine, and BME was the perfect combination that would allow me to be involved in various aspects.
What is your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is New Years. While it’s been on and off for the last couple of years, I get to reunite with my family, enjoy good food, celebrate, relax, and plan our next year tasks and accomplishments.
What is your favorite movie quote?
I actually do not have a favorite quote, but I could say, “Houston, we have a problem.” This quote comes very handy when talking with students and graduate students about their research or classes.
Who would star in the movie about your life?
Mmmm, this is tricky! While not my favorite actor, because I do not have one, I think Tom Hanks. While he is a person who maintains a low profile, he is an excellent actor who can play many different roles.