Kristin Martin-Cook, MS
MS, Rehabilitation Counseling - Psychology
UT Southwestern Medical Center ’96
Clinical Research Coordinator
UTSW Alzheimer’s Disease Center
"Since I was in fourth grade, I knew I wanted to work in psychology. Specifically, I wanted to understand more about how the brain works, what happens when it doesn’t work, and why it doesn’t work. … [M]y brother had some learning disabilities when he was young, and he had epilepsy, so I wanted to work in that area and understand more about how the brain works."
An Exciting Field
"I think all neurological diseases are exciting. Right now we know more about how the brain works than we ever did before, but there are still so many things to uncover. Being able to work in an area where you collect data and see patients and help the patients cope with the disease and at the same time fight the disease through participation in research – there’s nothing more exciting than that."
"UT Southwestern’s School of Health Professions understood my interest was very specific to geriatrics, and though that wasn’t the focus of the program, they were able to match what I was interested in, both in how they taught me the curriculum and also how they found me the internship and the practicum experience that I needed."
Research and Outreach
"I did my final internship at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center—a research study that involved me not only collecting data about patients and how symptoms progressed for them, but also intervention, where I went into their homes and actually got to use and apply my rehab counseling skills and what I had learned about disability directly to their lives. In the research study, I was able to tell them what the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease were and give them that education, then educate them about how to adjust their lives, their environment, how they interacted with one another so they would be able to more successful in coping with that disability. That research study turned into an offer to stay there as a research assistant. Then, 15 years later, I moved into a clinical research coordinator position."
"So what exactly does a clinical research coordinator do? “[We] coordinate everything about a study, from the paperwork and obtaining consent to following federal regulations for protecting human rights as research subjects to seeing the patients and finding the very best fit for them so they can contribute to research in the very best way in the best study for them. … It’s a full cycle, where the patient contributes to the research and the research is given back to the patient in the form of new therapies, new interventions, and a new understanding of their disease."
The Last Word
"I think that people who contribute to medical research are heroes. So every perspective I can think of, the only way I or you or anyone else will have future help is if those breakthroughs are made in science. It requires patients who are willing to contribute their experience, their story, their struggle with the disability for us to make progress forward."