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From patient to advocate — BW grad is voice for people with incurable diseases

For Christin Godale '16, a diagnosis of epilepsy as a child launched a career path that today puts her at the forefront of medical breakthroughs that can change people's lives, including her own.

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As director of life sciences at CincyTech, Godale plays a pivotal role in spearheading initiatives that can unearth promising opportunities in biotechnology in the Midwest. She identifies investments for the venture capital firm that drive economic development and have the potential to revolutionize healthcare through groundbreaking therapeutics, devices and diagnostics.

It is a perfect role for the hard-working professional from Mentor, Ohio. Being at the cusp of medical advances is a rewarding endeavor for Godale, who faced monumental adversity in trying to manage her own wellness for a condition that has no cure and is the fourth most common neurological disease.

Facing challenge with perseverance

"When I was a young girl, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. My seizures became worse as I grew up. At one point, I was grappling with approximately 30 seizures per day, and I found myself confined to a bed in my living room, relying on constant care from my family," recalled Godale.

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"I often asked many questions about my condition to my doctors. During an extended hospital stay when I was in high school, one neurologist suggested I consider a career in neuroscience and brought in some of his medical school textbooks for me to read. That moment changed my life. I decided to pursue that type of career because I wanted to understand what exactly was going on in my brain," she reflected.

"When the opportunity to apply to Baldwin Wallace opened up and to delve into the complexities of the disorder I live with, I couldn't ignore it. My journey has been far from straightforward. This complexity compels me to share my story frequently. Embracing the challenges has shaped my perspective, instilling gratitude for where I am in life," she said with heartfelt appreciation.

Gaining a competitive advantage at BW

"I faced a lot of barriers to leading a typical life, let alone pursuing a career," admitted Godale. Her resilience became her stronghold and motivation to excel. At BW, she immersed herself deeply in her studies. She majored in neuroscience and biology, delved into a laboratory internship her first year, and gained impressive public speaking and networking skills.

"My involvement in the lab early on significantly contributed to my competitiveness as an applicant for graduate school. The lab work I did was a rarity for first-year students at other institutions. Remarkably, at BW, this immersion into laboratory practices wasn't an exception. It was an integral part of the curriculum for all neuroscience students," stated Godale.

"This gave me a distinctive competitive advantage. As I navigated my first year of graduate school and engaged in lab rotations, the proficiency I gained at BW significantly contributed to my preparedness and success in the more advanced research environment of graduate school," she emphasized. 

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"The most profoundly impactful aspect of my personal and professional journey at Baldwin Wallace was the accessibility to the faculty," Godale went on to say. "Unlike larger universities, where one-on-one time with mentors can be elusive, BW provided an environment for meaningful interactions with faculty members. I attribute a significant portion of my success, a sentiment I emphasized during my doctoral dissertation defense, to the strong foundation laid by faculty at BW."

Facing a monumental decision

"I confronted the challenges of living with epilepsy and experiencing seizures while diligently working towards my doctorate. A significant hurdle arose in 2017. I was hospitalized, plunged into a coma by an episode of status epilepticus — an unrelenting seizure state preventing consciousness. Fortuitously, exceptional care at the University of Cincinnati Epilepsy Center facilitated my recovery," recalled Godale.

"I faced a monumental decision — either persevere in graduate school or halt my academic pursuit due to the formidable recovery ahead from the epilepsy incident. Despite adversity, I resumed my academic journey and succeeded in doing so. I authored and published numerous peer-reviewed articles, gained national and international recognition for epilepsy advocacy, secured prestigious grants, mentored fellow students navigating epilepsy-related career decisions and volunteered extensively for local nonprofits," she said with thoughtful candor.

In 2022, Godale received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati. During her tenure as a doctoral candidate, she received several awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a Predoctoral Fellowship from the American Epilepsy Society, a Trainee Professional Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience, the National Institutes of Health Outstanding Scholars in Neuroscience Award and the University of Cincinnati Presidential Medal of Graduate Student Excellence. She was also appointed by the Governor of Ohio to serve as a Graduate Student Trustee on the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees.

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Being a pillar for others

In looking back at her personal and professional life, Godale says she is proud of what she has accomplished through hard work, determination and perseverance. She is an advocate, mentor and role model for many.

Finding a cure for epilepsy and other diseases is foremost on her mind. So, too, is being a pillar for others facing challenges. "I want people to know that achieving your goals is possible, even when faced with adversity. You just have to keep moving forward," she said with positive affirmation. 

Read more about her journey at UC News.

Top photo credit: University of Cincinnati

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