Medical sciences professor brings COVID-19 lab experience to new role
By Kate Hunger
Assistant Professor/Clinical Guillermo Nunez, MLS (ASCP)CM, has experienced UT Health San Antonio as a master’s and PhD student, a member of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team and most recently, as a faculty member in the new Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program.
Nunez grew up in El Paso and graduated with a bachelor’s in microbiology from the University of Texas at El Paso. He earned a Master of Science in Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) from UT Health San Antonio in 2020 and is a second-year student in the PhD in Health Sciences program.
Immediately after earning his master’s in MLS, Nunez joined the molecular diagnostic laboratory in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and spent six months analyzing COVID-19 tests using nucleic amplification as part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Testing Team, which earned a 2021 Presidential Award for Team Excellence. He then transitioned primarily to molecular oncology testing to detect leukemia and other cell malignancies.
“I had to adapt very quickly, get trained, get confident and develop my expertise in the instruments we used for COVID-19 testing,” Nunez said.
In April, after two years of molecular lab testing, he joined the School of Health Professions faculty for the Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program, which welcomes its first cohort this fall.
“The purpose of the program is to show students all the different options they have,” he said. “When I was in their shoes, I didn’t know about these opportunities. I didn’t know about PT, OT or PA programs, so this is a good opportunity for them to get to know and network with other students and faculty who have different backgrounds.”
This fall, Nunez will teach a biochemistry course and an introduction to the health professions, and in the spring, he will teach microbiology and a combined class on clinical chemistry, hematology and immunology.
His passion for medical laboratory sciences is based in part on that profession’s various specialties and the opportunity to contribute to clinical decision-making for patients.
“MLS is divided into four main disciplines: microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology and blood bank,” he said. “You can specialize in any of those. Each one is amazing. I always liked working in the research lab, but in the clinical lab you can be a part of the clinical decision-making for patients. You are part of a diagnostic team.”