Friday, January 29, 2021
  Awards and Recognitions

By Victoria Brito

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Romeo Escobar, UTRGV assistant professor of social work, has been appointed to the newly formed Scientific Advisory Board of the Resource Center for Minority Aging Research Coordinating Center (RCMAR). 

RCMAR is comprised of some 474 scientists from 18 states at centers across the country. The state of Texas has representatives from the UTRGV Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Minority Research, as well as the center at the UT Medical Branch at Galveston.

Escobar became a UTRGV RCMAR scientist in 2019 with his research project, Characteristics of Mexican American Alzheimer’s Caregivers within the South Texas-Mexico Border Region.

The advisory board’s mission is to increase the diversity of the aging research workforce and to foster an academic research community reflective of the diversity in the United States.

The board will serve as:

  • A representative community of RCMAR scientists to provide input and feedback to the RCMAR Coordinating Center on overall RCMAR programs, services and support.
  • A formal mechanism for members to interact with the RCMAR Coordinating Center on how to best meet the professional and career development needs of RCMAR scientists.
  • A vehicle by which RCMAR scientists can discuss and address sensitive issues affecting scientists’ personal and professional lives – for example, systemic racism, gender discrimination and power dynamics in academia.

“The goals are to have representation in the community of RCMAR scientists to have feedback to the RCMAR coordinators and overall RCMAR services and support,” Escobar said. “We serve as a liaison between the national coordinating center and our local RCMAR centers.”

Terms on the board are two years. The group had its first meeting in mid-January to identify group goals.

Escobar was asked to apply for consideration by Dr. Gladys Maestre, director of the UTRGV RCMAR center and professor of neuroscience in the UTRGV School of Medicine. Although Escobar said he didn’t think he would be selected because he was a new RCMAR scientist, but he still applied.

"When I found out I had received the appointment to the advisory board, I was ecstatic,” he said. “I think it is going to be a great board, and I am very happy to be a part of it.”

Maestre, who started the center at UTRGV in 2018, said Escobar’s research will help make a difference in the lives of Mexican-American caregivers. 

“Having his voice in the RCMAR Scientist Advisory Board not only will provide UTRGV with an opportunity to influence directives for the National Institute of Aging, but also bring the voice of Mexican-American caregivers to where new studies and services are designed and funded,” she said.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.