Dr. Thomas Champney Publishes New Book on Neuroanatomy

1) When did you first become interested in science?

I have been curious about how things work since I was a young child. I enjoyed science throughout grade school and high school.

2) Why did you pick The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and your program?

I attended The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to work specifically with Dr. Russel J Reiter on the pineal gland and its hormone melatonin.

3) Tell me more about your career path.

I graduated from high school in Huntington, New York, in 1976 and attended Southampton College from 1976–1979 receiving B.S. degrees in Biology and Marine Biology. In 1980, I received a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree (in science) from Colgate University. My thesis investigated the role of the pineal gland on food intake and body weight in hamsters. My thesis advisor, Dr. Roger Hoffman, suggested I pursue a Ph.D. with Dr. Reiter at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. My older brother was a young faculty member at the University of Texas San Antonio at the time, so it made the move to Texas much easier.

4) Tell me about your current career, what do you do?

In 2009 I accepted my current position at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. As a Full Professor (Educator Track), I teach first year medical students gross anatomy, histology and neuroanatomy. I also teach research ethics, histology and neuroscience to graduate students. My current scholarly activity involves the ethics of human tissue use, specifically the use of

5) What is a day like in your job?

There is a great amount of variety in my daily activities. I enjoy the mix between deskwork, lecturing, teaching in the laboratory, helping to manage the willed body program as well as mentoring both faculty and students.

6) How did the education you get at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio prepare you?

My education at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio prepared me very well for my career. I learned excellent research skills from Dr. Reiter and Dr. Mary Vaughan and teaching skills from Dr. Earl Adrian, Dr. Damon Herbert and Dr. Linda Johnson. Having both the ability to learn how to conduct quality research as well as obtaining excellent teaching guidance was a huge plus for my education.

7) What has been your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is when a former student of mine writes or tells me that my teaching and professional example has helped him become a better physician, especially when he relates how a specific patient has been helped. From a research perspective, I remember when a young girl with epilepsy was helped based on basic melatonin research I performed. I am also proud of recently publishing a textbook on clinical neuroanatomy. This textbook is the first to provide the neuroanatomy in the clinical orientation as observed by CT and MRI.

8) What would you tell a current student interested in your career? Any advice?

I would encourage all students interested in a scientific career to acquire unique and diverse skills. Besides having excellent research skills, a young scientist can be extremely marketable if they can teach histology, embryology and gross anatomy.

9) What do you like to do outside of work?

I really enjoy sailing, hiking and observing the natural world both above and below the water.

10) Growing up, what did you want to be?

I originally wanted to be an underwater explorer / researcher like Jacques Cousteau and I still have a fascination with all things oceanographic and nautical.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio offers academic programs in the biomedical sciences.