#NBCLatino20: Tomás Guilarte — A scientist impacts health

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By Carmen Sesin

The effects of lead exposure on children's development is an ongoing public health issue.

Tomás Guilarte is a scientist, an educator and an academic leader who has garnered recognition for showing how low-level lead exposure affects the central nervous system as the brain develops. He has then developed ways to limit and even reverse these effects.

His current research looks into the impact environmental pollutants have on the brain during development and how they affect neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Tomás Guilarte.Illustration by Aaron Fernandez for NBC News

His research has been used in PBS Nova documentaries on the Flint water crisis and lead poisoning.

Guilarte is the dean at Florida International University’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. He spent years as the chairman at Columbia University’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences and decades as a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

His current job is a bit of a homecoming for the noted scientist and researcher.

“It has been extremely rewarding to be back in Miami, the community that welcomed me when I arrived to this great country as a young child,” Guilarte, who was born in Cuba, said.

"I recognize the need for successful scientists and academicians to be role models for Hispanics," he added, "while working to solve problems that our communities face.”

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