Rodney Samaco, PhD

Baylor College of Medicine, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
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Rodney Samaco, PhD

Dr. Rodney Samaco is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and an Investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital (TCH) in Houston, Texas. He is the Co-Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Baylor (BCM IDDRC). From 2019-2021, he served as the Vice Chair of the AUCD Council on Research and Evaluation (CORE). Together with Chair Dr. Ronda Jenson, Research Director of the Arizona University Center on Disabilities (AzUCD) Institute for Human Development at Northern Arizona University, and Secretary Dr. George Gotto, IV, Director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Human Development, the Council and membership made significant progress in establishing deeper network integration across UCEDDs, LENDs, and IDDRCs.


In the next phase of CORE 2022-2024, Dr. Samaco will serve as Chair alongside Vice Chair Dr. Vanessa Hiratsuka, Co-Director of Research & Evaluation of the Center for Human Development at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and Secretary Dr. Katey Burke, Senior Research Associate of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Dr. Samaco's involvement in the network spans more than 17 years; he seeks to draw upon the lens of convening successful partnerships for cross-fertilization and work strategically with the broader network leadership and members to leverage the strengths of existing branches of the AUCD. By co-formulating collaborative project(s) with well-defined goals and timelines, and following in the footsteps of Past-Board Member Dr. Scott Pomeroy of Boston Children's Hospital IDDRC, Dr. Samaco aims to identify, facilitate and implement methods to educate and learn from each other's respective Centers (leadership, members, and communities) with the end-goal to advance the collective mission of the Network.
Dr. Samaco's research focuses on optimizing the experimental framework for preclinical readiness for rare and ultra-rare (RAREs) genetic neurological conditions. He strives to advance patient/caregiver-centric actionable approaches that are well aligned with the principles of co-production and community-based participatory research. Notably his recent appointment to the Global Genes' RARE Health Equity Leadership Council allows him to directly contribute to and maximize the unique intersectional lived experiences of numerous individuals across these communities. His involvement at this level exemplifies how meaningful dialogue can shape the narrative to ensure change with intent for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive healthcare and research ecosystem.