Associate Professor
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US

Professional Statement

Dr. Faustinella is currently associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Over the past several years, Dr. Faustinella has worked in the Texas Medical Center as a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center, now John P. McGovern Medical School, in Houston, TX. In both institutions, her career goal has been improving the health of our patient population through service, education, research and scholarship. Her Baylor career started in Dr. Lawrence Chan's lab, in the Department of Cell Biology, where her research was critical to the elucidation of the structural and functional role of the catalytic triad of the Human Lipoprotein Lipase (hLPL), an essential enzyme in lipoprotein metabolism. She also studied patients affected by familial LPL deficiency (Type I Hyperlipoproteinemia), a rare disorder characterized by chylomicronemia, recurrent episodes of acute pancreatitis, eruptive xanthoma, hepatosplenomegaly, and failure to thrive. Her investigation led to the identification of several nonsense and missense mutations in the DNA sequence, resulting in a nonfunctional LPL and the clinical manifestation of the disease.

Later, her interest in the molecular basis of genetic diseases and in gene therapy brought her to Dr. Tom Caskey's lab in the Department of Molecular Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, where she contributed to the isolation of a Miller-Dicker lissencephaly gene and developed a new family of retroviral vectors with multiple cloning sites for gene insertion.

After completing a residency program in internal medicine at Baylor, where she received The Henry D. McIntosh Award for Outstanding Resident in Medicine, Dr. Faustinella readdressed her career choices to reflect her commitment to patient care and education, which earned her the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor and the induction to the Academy of Outstanding Educators.

As a member of the Curriculum Committee, while at UT, Dr. Faustinella has worked on curriculum development focusing on the integration of basic and clinical sciences, courses/clerkships organization and the teaching of clinical skills. Her didactic and administrative responsibilities have been extensive as co-director of the IV year Required Internal Medicine Clerkship, director of the Physical Diagnosis Course and associate director of Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine at UT-Houston, among others.

While working in the Texas Medical Center, Dr. Faustinella has made an effort to seek, develop and foster inter-institutional collaborations in education and research between our two major institutions, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas. Examples are the work done as Chair of the Comprehensive Clinical Competency Exam committee, which allowed both schools to gather data on students' clinical skills and implement curricular and training changes to address students' needs; the participation in the Master Teacher Fellowship Program and a collaborative study on liposome-mediated gene transfer of nerve growth factors in primary septo-hippocampal cell cultures, which was part of a research project on neural injuries.

A constant element of Dr. Faustinella’s work and career has been and continues to be extensive and direct patient care, in both the inpatient and the outpatient medicine service. She has received the Best Doctors in America award several times and has been recognized in the Houston Best Doctors List. Her interests include obstacles to health care access for racial and ethnic minorities, health care disparities and patient advocacy. She’s also been inspired to write about her experiences in a number of patient-centered essays which have been published in academic and literary journals.

Dr. Faustinella is a film writer, producer and director with an interest in social problems. She has received national and international recognition for her short movie productions. She has recently completed a feature length documentary on homelessness, "The Dark Side of the Moon", which explores the root causes of homelessness and the challenges of street life, as long as societal biases and prejudices towards homeless people, while discussing possible solutions to this widespread and devastating problem. The documentary also discusses how a difficult upbringing, amidst abuse and neglect, can have a devastating impact on the cognitive and physical development of a child.

Dr. Faustinella is currently working on a new project which explores the origins and causes of racial inequalities in the American Health Care system.

Dr. Faustinella is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and a Laureate of the American College of Physicians.