Anthony Covarrubias grew up in a working-class neighborhood in South Los Angeles. While celebrities in sports cars whizzed to the beach just a few miles away, Covarrubias’ neighbors waited in long lines at the local health clinic for low-quality care they couldn’t afford. Although his parents worked hard to make ends meet, access to health care and health benefits was not always available. Acutely aware of this disparity from a young age, Covarrubias decided to get an education and help correct the injustice.

For this Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health doctoral student, now in his final year in the Biological Sciences program, the quest to cure metabolic diseases is personal. He’s seen family members and neighbors suffer from diabetes and recently learned of a graduate from his high school who died young from atherosclerosis. Finding a cure for conditions that disproportionately shorten the lives of the poor and people of color won’t be easy, but Covarrubias is in it for the long haul.

“Science teaches you to be patient and persevere,” he says. “Sometimes experiments don’t work out. Sometimes we give it our best effort and it’s still not enough. But that’s what I have signed up for.”

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