From the Canal to Chemistry

Juan Castillo shares his story in new ‘Become A Researcher’ video series

By Hansook Oh and Melissa Simon

April 5, 2023

“My mother was a huge part of my journey and is the backbone of who I am today. It's an incredible feeling to share my mother's story and give the viewers my reason for pursuing an education. I did it for her,” said Castillo, a research scientist for Gilead Sciences.

Castillo earned his doctorate degree in analytical chemistry from the University of California, Davis. Before that, he obtained his bachelor’s in chemistry from San Francisco State University, where he participated in the National Institutes of Health-funded research program, SF BUILD. 

In his episodes, Castillo talks about how growing up in the “Canal” neighborhood in San Rafael, California, helped shape his journey toward becoming a researcher and inspired him to give back to the community. His work focuses on small molecule therapeutics to help people with life-threatening diseases.

Castillo said he wants to inspire others and be a role model. He likes to participate in outreach programs as an authentic role model and share educational experiences with historically underrepresented students in science. 

“I hope with these videos I can inspire others who look like me to pursue a career in science and they too can obtain a higher education degree in anything they set their minds to,” he said.

Watch all three of Castillo’s episodes on YouTube:

What does it take to become a scientific researcher? The Diversity Program Consortium’s (DPC) Enhance Science project explores this question in a new video series called “Become A Researcher.” 

The series features five biomedical researchers who are at different stages of their careers, from starting graduate school to managing multiple grant-funded projects as accomplished senior faculty. Each of the five researchers are affiliated with the DPC, a network of institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement training and mentoring interventions, and to enhance individuals' success in biomedical research careers.

Read the next story in our Become A Researcher series featuring Cecilia Hinojosa, PhD.

Story was updated on September 12, 2023.

Supported by the National Institutes of Health

Award #U54GM119024