Dario followed an untraditional path to medicine. After graduating from college in 2012, he pursued a career in law enforcement that allowed him to develop his skills in leadership, crisis management, and diplomacy. Although he always planned on going to medical school, he took his time in law enforcement seriously, advancing through the ranks quickly, most notably serving as detective sergeant over his department’s Criminal Investigations Division. After six years, he left law enforcement in pursuit of becoming a physician and began his career as a medical student and researcher.
As a CaRES intern, Dario worked alongside Dr. Kristen Triebel and her lab researching neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment in cancer survivors. Their work focused on the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of cognitive impairment in cancer survivors using PET imaging and a radio-labeled tracer – a technology that’s only available in the U.S. through UAB – to quantify neuroinflammation in the brain. His work on the study earned him first place at the 2019 CaRES Research Symposium.
Dario credits Dr. Triebel and her team with teaching him the basics of research, giving him a platform to explore important areas of neuroscience, and allowing him to be innovative in his investigative approaches. Through collaboration with neighboring departments at UAB during his time as a CaRES intern, Dario was given the opportunity to pursue additional research interests in neurosurgery, beginning with case reports and eventually transitioning to more impactful longitudinal studies. He was also able to apply the skills he developed in the CaRES program to neurosurgical issues at his home institution. He recently obtained his first IRB as a medical student co-investigator to analyze functional outcomes in acute ischemic stroke patients screened with computed tomography perfusion.
The CaRES program served as an important steppingstone in Dario’s career and opened the door to dozens of other research opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise been available to him. He continues to pursue research in the neurosurgical field and is currently involved in several studies focused on evaluating and improving the quality of life in neurosurgical patients. In May 2020, he’ll present a study on influences of mood on quality of life in patients with metastatic brain cancer at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ 88th Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston.
Outside of research, Dario has served in several volunteer positions and leadership roles at his home institution, including as hospice and traumatic brain injury patient companions, president of the Neuro and Surgical interest groups, and as a class representative for his peers. He is grateful for his time in the CaRES program and will continue to use the invaluable skills he learned during CaRES throughout his career.