How I Became an LGBT Health Researcher: Q&A with Thom Remble
Written by Kitty, IMPACT intern.
We often get asked why we do what we do, so we’re sharing stories of IMPACT’s faculty and staff about the diverse paths to a career in LGBT health! This article features Dr. Thom Remble, director of research for the IMPACT Program.
How did you get interested in a career in LGBT health?
I started out researching HIV in the late 80’s when the epidemic was becoming very pronounced, and, being a member of the LGBT community myself, I was interested in giving back to the community. I thought this was a great way to not only research sexuality, which is a general interest, but also help other people like me.
What education or training did you pursue to prepare yourself for a career in LGBT health?
I was first interested in psychology and medicine. During my undergrad years, I dropped the idea of going to med school, but I really liked the psychology, so clinical psychology is where I started. I thought I would be a therapist, but then I took a step back and decided I could help a lot more people by doing research in LGBT health. I went to California, got my master’s in public health, and went on to a doctoral program in clinical sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.
What do you do at IMPACT?
I recently became the Director of Scientific Research for the IMPACT Program, but for the past several years, I’ve been the project director for RADAR, one of the largest longitudinal studies on LGBT health. I manage a staff of about 10 to 12 faculty members, interns, and med students who are collecting the data for the study. I work with all the faculty while getting feedback and providing information from the staff. Many of my duties are related to budgets, tracking recruitment and retention, making sure that the lab is functioning well, and making quick decisions when necessary.
What do you like about working in LGBT health?
I really like giving back to the community. It allows me to have an impact on many young people’s lives and also promote sexual health in general. Sexual health is a basic human right that is often not seen in research and medical/psychology training, so one of my main interests is promoting sexual health for people with disabilities, illnesses, or injuries, and helping people address those concerns that we all have but have no place to go to find the answers.
What advice would you give to someone interested in LGBT health?
Be prepared to change the course of your training and life as opportunities present themselves. I didn’t plan on going to all these different graduate programs, but they all have made me an expert in LGBT health and sexual development, and I wouldn’t have gotten here without following detours along the way. Every obstacle can be a chance to do something different. Talking to people who have been in the field and found different paths to working in LGBT health is one of the best ways to get ideas about where your path might go.
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