Young Cardiologist Enjoys Life as Science Rebel
Published July 2010
Multitasking is a way of life for Jack Rubinstein, MD.
The 33-year-old cardiologist wears many hats: bench scientist, clinical physician, author and family man. The earliest of these is taking him to the top at the University of Cincinnati.
Rubinstein was recently awarded the Rehn Family Research Award, an internal grant that supports the research development of internal medicine junior faculty, clinical and postdoctoral fellows, residents, graduate students and medical students.
He will receive $14,962 for one year to conduct research that one may dub unconventional at first glance.
"I’m looking at why high-fat diets may not be as bad as previously thought,” he says.
Rubinstein is kind of a rebel when it comes to science.
A Mexico City native, he graduated with honors from Universidad Anáhuac del Norte and subsequently completed a research fellowship at Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia Ignacio Chávez. He then came to the United States to train in internal medicine and cardiology, finishing his training as chief cardiology fellow at Michigan State University in 2009.
"I decided to come to UC because of the quality researchers, mentors and research support,” he says. "I always wanted to be a clinician, but you can do more of what you want to do in academia. During the latter half of my cardiology fellowship, I started to do some interesting, and somewhat quirky, research.
"I always liked to question how things work. Research is a socially acceptable way to question authority.”
Rubinstein says his newest research is no different.
"People who are overweight usually have high cholesterol and are at an increased risk of heart attack,” he says. "However, some research has shown that after the first heart attack, this same group of people has fewer complications and less chance for a recurring heart attack than those who are not overweight. This contradicts the strong data that shows fat and high cholesterol are bad.
"But I want to know why.”
Researchers in Rubinstein’s lab will be looking into the proteins and genes in overweight animal models to see which mechanisms are activated that result in cardiac protection.
In addition, Rubinstein was recently able to help bring an innovative heart imaging machine to UC, helping researchers to better study animal hearts in the lab.
"This machine has already helped us measure outcomes that we couldn’t have otherwise, like contractility of the heart muscle after being injected with stem cells,” he says. "Older technologies couldn’t tell us if therapies were working, and we always had the risk of harming the specimen because it is so small and difficult to analyze.
"This machine is helping to provide more precise outcomes in our research that could lead to better patient care in the long run.”
Rubinstein has many more interesting research ideas and is seeking funding for them. In the meantime, he will continue splitting his time between the bench and the bedside, making waves as a young scientist.
"I really haven’t accomplished that much yet,” he says. "I have a lot of support, and I’m being cautiously optimistic that we’ll soon find some pretty cool things.”
Personal File: ‘Why?’ Leads to Writing a Children’s Book
One evening, when his daughter, Liora, 7, asked the simple question, "Why?,” Jack Rubinstein, MD, thought he’d answer her question as well as enlighten inquisitive children all over the world in one fell swoop.
"I was playing dominoes one night with some friends—one was a Muslim, one was a Hindu and one was agnostic,” says Rubinstein. "I am Jewish. My daughter woke up, came out of her room and asked us a few questions about different religions.”
This gave Rubinstein the idea to write a children’s book, called "I and I,” to put philosophy and religion into simple terms that children can understand.
"The book explains that we can all have different beliefs and deities but that we are all still unified as human beings,” he says.
"My hope is that it will teach kids tolerance and respect.”