Focus On highlights faculty, staff, students and researchers at the UC Academic Health Center. To suggest someone to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindi Naticchioni, 30, is a non-traditional student who holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UC and is now pursuing post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies. She spent three years in Southern California enjoying some success as a professional model before deciding to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor.
Mindi is a student research assistant in a lab in the Cardiovascular Research Center. She presented a poster at the American Heart Association’s national conference in November. It was selected for the Best of AHA Specialty Conferences Gallery and also recognized at UC during Research Week. Mindi will also present a poster at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference in San Diego later this month.
So you were in Hollywood, land of the famous. Talk to us about your acting career.
"I was considered a commercial actress and model. At 5 feet 6, I am not incredibly tall, so I didn’t do high fashion. I would do Value City ads modeling sweaters. I did Speedway commercials and a lot of employee training videos. You have to be part of the company to see them. It was funny because I got recognized in Los Angeles for a Kroger affiliate company as part of a training video. Someone was like, ‘Weren’t you a manager in our employee video? I left California when my acting jobs were going really well. I typed up a letter of resignation and sent it to my casting agencies, asking not to send me any more casting notifications because I was going to medical school.”
Why come back to Cincinnati after enjoying the land of sun, fun and surf?
"I left Hollywood in 2013 to come back to Cincinnati and study medicine. I came back and saw the snow and thought, ‘What I am I doing?’ But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t go back. I was in Los Angeles and it was fun getting up and surfing and playing in the sun, but I really felt like in here (she points to her heart) I wasn’t doing anything with my life. It had always been in the back of my head that I wanted to get into medicine. I decided to follow through with this and I applied to the University of Southern California to their post-baccalaureate program. I wasn’t sure of the outcome knowing the program boasts a 2 percent acceptance rate. I was ecstatic when I got in, but I thought, ‘you know this a private school and it will cost me about $150,000.’ I decided to go back to UC and do this myself. There is something special about UC. There is something about the interconnectedness of the main campus and the sciences, and how they can translate to the medical campus, the Cardiovascular Center and the hospital. You can’t ask for a better institution to study and do research.
"I know the campus, and I know it is highly regarded for research. I also missed UC and Cincinnati, so I packed everything up in the station wagon and came back to Cincinnati. I started taking classes about a year and a half ago. I take the MCAT at the end of summer, and I will be putting my application in at UC for medical school.”
What area of medicine interests you?
"I am really open to a lot of things. I observed general surgery, which was exciting. I’ve also shadowed my mentor Dr. Jack Rubinstein numerous times and I am very interested in cardiology. I think that’s another reason why I find my research so intriguing. At the AHA conference they gave presentations involving patients who survived because of agents developed through labs such as ours. I am finished this summer. I am tying up a few loose ends and done with pre-medical studies. Then I apply, and UC is my first choice and I would love to stay working in Dr. Rubinstein’s lab while attending medical school.”
Tell us more about your work in the lab.
"In a nutshell, what we research is the TRPV2 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 2) protein. This TRP channel is a moderately selective calcium channel. They are found in dorsal ganglia in the brain, and in smooth muscle and skeletal muscle tissue to a small degree. We have recently published that the TRPV2 subtype is found in cardiac tissue, and have been conducting experiments to determine its role in cardiac function.”
What do you do in your spare time?
"I am kind of boring. I like to run. I like to watch movies. I worked with the television industry so good film is a must. I love food, and as an Italian, I cook. The love of my life is two feet tall, my dog, a chug (a Chihuahua-pug mix) named Piper. She was a rescue, and I am a huge advocate for the rescue of animals.”