Visually impaired Clemson student awarded for his doctoral studies

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CLEMSON – Recent Clemson graduate Jose Guevara refused to allow a loss of vision to impede his dream of becoming a scientist.
Guevara graduated in December 2017 with a Ph.D. in genetics.Image Credit: Clemson University photo
Through hard work and perseverance in his last semester of graduate school, Guevara received the first Susan R. Patterson Professional Development Award in Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics from the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) for his work in the field.
Much of Guevara’s doctoral work in genetics and biochemistry focused on developing  bioinformatic and computational methods to study intellectual disabilities at the molecular level. The study was completed, in part, after he lost his sight in 2014.
“My condition appears to be idiopathic. It’s the result of intracranial hypertension, which is basically increased pressure in the cranial cavity in the brain,” Guevara explained. “Easier put, it was a swollen brain, and it compressed my optic nerve.”
Guevara was halfway through his doctoral program when he began having headaches. Those headaches gave way to blurry vision, and eventually, Jose was flown home to Costa Rica for medical treatment.
“The headaches weren’t caught in time,” Guevara said. “I kept seeing less and less until I became completely blind. I spent almost a year in the intensive care unit in Costa Rica, where I underwent a series of brain surgeries.”
Where most people would have succumbed to the circumstances, Jose found an opportunity to excel.
Guevara (right) works with a colleague from genetics and biochemistry.Image Credit: Clemson University photo
“When I was in the ICU, I kept getting sicker, and everything was just going downhill. At that point, I was completely blind, and a doctor came in. I asked him: ‘Will I ever see again?’ He said, ‘No. Don’t get your hopes up,’ ” Guevara said. “The first thing that came to mind was that …

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