Born in the city of Monterrey in northern Mexico, Ricardo Guajardo was eight when he immigrated to the United States along with his mother and brothers. While they settled in Laredo, TX, a border town on the Rio Grande, Ricardo’s father remained in Mexico, working to support his family remotely. Ricardo’s mother worked full-time as a registered nurse while raising the children and continuing her education, eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.
In Laredo, Ricardo did his middle and high school education at Harmony Science Academy, a newly formed public charter school with an emphasis on college readiness, mathematics, and science. There, his teachers fostered his interest in the sciences and in math, encouraging him to participate in, and succeed, in regional math and robotics competitions. Ricardo’s experience in his eighth-grade biology classroom, together with his exposure to healthcare through his mother, led to his initial interest in medicine.
Ricardo went on to Stanford University, where he studied biology with a concentration in neurobiology. His freshman year, Ricardo joined Professor Liqun Luo’s laboratory, where he focused on uncovering mechanisms behind how cell-surface receptors promote the assembly of neural circuits during development. In the Luo Lab, Ricardo led an independent project studying the conserved protein Plexin B in olfactory circuit wiring, which was published in the journal eLife. For this work, Ricardo was awarded the Firestone Medal for Excellence in Research. Ricardo’s time in the Luo Lab was his first exposure to research, and it fueled his passion for biological discovery and led him to pursue combined physician-scientist training.
Ricardo is currently completing the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California, San Francisco. As a graduate student in the laboratory of Doctor Anna Molofsky, he is studying the role of neuronal extracellular matrix production in hippocampal learning and memory. Ricardo hopes to discover mechanisms by which the brain stores and processes memories in the hope of elucidating how memory processes go awry in neurodegenerative and psychiatric conditions.