Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, has spread her roots far and wide. She was born in Brooklyn, raised and educated in Argentina, and began building her professional career in Maryland. Today she resides in Miami, and is the president of the Executive Health & Wealth Institute, and managing partner of the Florida Neuroscience Center.
However, she credits her career as a successful MD and board-certified psychiatrist to those early years in Argentina, where the school she attended focused on English course work in the mornings and Spanish in the afternoons.
“It was like living in two worlds at the same time,” Cora recalls. “And I think that gave me a great foundation for later on in my work; to better understand other cultures by trying to learn more about them and be of greater service.”
Cora pursued her medical doctorate degree at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. At 24 years of age, she graduated not only with honors, but with a physician husband and two small children, as well.
The family moved to Maryland in 1990, where Cora became a clinical research fellow at the prestigious National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, followed by residency training in Psychiatry at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and then another fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where she focused on mood and anxiety disorders. She also served both as a civilian as well as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service while at the NIMH. Shortly thereafter, Cora and her family moved to Florida.
“I spent 10 years in D.C., and now about 12 years in Miami,” Cora says. “And those are two very different worlds. So it’s interesting that even in the U.S., living in different states at different times, life can be very different. I think it kind of prepared me in a way to be very flexible and to really try to jump into the different cultures.”
A focus on psychiatry
Cora’s initial career interest was journalism, and she focused on that while in high school. Then, one day a family friend, the dean of sciences at a local university, asked her a thought-provoking question: “Do you want to write about what other people do, or do you want to write about your own research?” That question left a lasting impression.
“I was always fascinated by psychiatry,” Cora recalls. “I read Freud’s work, and I read other published social psychology articles probably when I was 14 years old. So by the time I finished high school, I had already read some major psychology work.”
That focus stayed with Cora through her four-year fellowship at NIMH, where she spent a significant amount of time working in the obsessive-compulsive disorder unit, as well as writing and publishing articles. That’s when she realized that what she was writing was very restrictive.
“It was very helpful to speak that language with other researchers, but the public at large would have said, ‘What are you talking about?’” Cora explains. “I became more interested in public awareness and education, and spreading these concepts on a broader scale.”
Going into business
The inspiration for launching her own business came in 1999 from her new job in Florida. Soon after becoming the regional coordinator for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Cora was invited to create and facilitate leadership and teamwork workshops internally.
“It became obvious to strategically integrate medical needs and knowledge with business opportunities that would serve the public at large,” Cora says. “That was a turning point to start my own business.”
Cora and her husband launched the Executive Health & Wellness Institute in 2003, followed by the Florida Neuroscience Center in 2007. During that period, she completed mediation certification training at the University of Miami School of Law, followed by a joint master’s in business administration and a master’s in health administration and policy at the University of Miami School of Business Administration.
She then began coaching corporate executives and entrepreneurs to maximize their productivity and performance while optimizing their health and well-being.
“While many people struggle with whether or not they can do everything they want, I firmly believe you can,” Cora says. “You just need to choose to do one thing at a time.”
While at the NIMH, Cora was often invited to speak on a TV show called Let’s Talk About Health. The show was live, and viewers were able to phone in with questions. She eventually became a co-host, and that experience prepared her for the next step in her career after moving to Miami.
“Having worked in [the TV] medium for a while, I began getting offers to host some shows,” Cora says. “But I turned some of those down, mainly because I felt that I was being brought in to do things the way that they wanted me to do them. I decided that if I was valuable enough to be asked to do those shows, that I would organize a new show the way I wanted.”
That desire gave rise to The Doctor Gaby Show, as well as daily clips on YouTube. Cora says her daughter, now 24 years old, is her right hand, helping her write the material as well as shoot the video.
“I learned a lot from her about social media,” Cora laughs. “She started blogging when she was 11 years old.”
Cora says that the most rewarding aspect of the work she does is that she’s able to help others become more aware about their own issues. And she does that by being herself.
“On the shows I can be myself,” Cora says. “I can discuss several topics, because I am curious about many things in life. This has given me the incentive to maximize everything that I want to do. And I really want to help people. By the end of the day, there’s always something to think about, something to become aware of, something that you’ll hopefully help people unlock so that they, too, can be more aware and happier.”