I've always been an engineer and scientist by nature. At the fifth semester of the Electrical Engineering School (a 5-year undergrad course in Brazil), I decided I wanted to study the brain and become an entrepreneur. Living in Southern Brazil in the early 90's, dropping out the engineering track and starting Medical School (also a 6-year undergrad course in Brazil) seemed like the most viable path.
When I brought my engineer mindset to the health care world, I found two things that I just had to do:
1. Atlas of Human Histology,
Brazil's First Medical Website
I started Medical School in 1995, only a few months after the first graphic websites began to appear around the world. At the time, I was a research assistant at the Informatics Institute, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, and I decided to apply my HTML skill to build Brazil's very first medical website. The work involved not only coding the pages in Notepad, but also scanning about a hundred slides using a special camera attached to a microscope, which was not quite trivial at the time. The atlas was awarded best innovation work for the entire university in 1995 and kind of paved the way to my entrepreneurial career in digital health.
At some point in history, the university server that supported the website was taken down and I never bothered to republish it (it was too outdated anyway), but you can download a PDF version here.
The Atlas was an academic project mentored by Prof. José Valdeni de Lima.
Human Bone Tissue
2. Neurolab, an Electrophysiology Lab
Right after I published the Atlas of Human Histology, I became a research assistant in neuroscience/epilepsy (1996-1999). Dr. Jaderson Costa da Costa, a lifetime mentor, had got funding to create an electrophysiology lab, PUCRS' first, and someone had to make it happen. After visiting other labs and putting quite a lot of energy learning about equipment and techniques, we finally set up a state-of-the-art current-clamp lab, which we used to study epileptic brain tissue derived both from mice and human epilepsy surgery patients. My engineering school years paid off, even if I never graduated.