According to Holly Hinson, the art of music and the science of the brain are not so different from each other.
There’s plenty of research to back up that idea. But as a neurologist who moonlights as a DJ, Hinson understands the connections better than most.
She’s been nourishing her dual interests since her high school days as a self-proclaimed “goth kid” excited by abnormal psychology. The lightning bolt moment came during a summer program for talented seniors that focused on neuroscience.
“I saw a dissection of a spinal cord that had all the peripheral nerves intact,” says Hinson, 41. “I remember thinking it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
Career goals set, Hinson pursued a dual path when she walked onto the campus of Rice University in Houston. Before she’d even unpacked her bags, she applied for airtime on the college’s radio station KTRU. She DJed all four years and served as both music director and program director.
The musical side of her life was dormant by the time she arrived in Portland to join the faculty at Oregon Health & Science University. But she gets her kicks in where she can on community radio station XRAY.fm, where she subs on Tex Clark’s popular Circa Rad show, and spinning post-punk in bars under the moniker DJ Robot.
Not that Hinson has much time to DJ. Alongside her teaching schedule and work in OHSU’s neurosciences ICU, she runs a research lab that works to create better treatment standards for traumatic brain injuries and help prepare doctors to treat LGBTQ+ patients.
When those fleeting chances to get behind the decks arrive, though, Hinson makes sure to grab them.
“Nurturing that makes my science so much better,” she says. “Having an outlet for my creative interests makes me a better doctor, and a better human being.”
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