Ph.D. Graduate Student,
University of Puerto Rico
School of Medicine
Currently I am a Ph.D. graduate student in the Biomedical Program at the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences campus. The fall of 2014, after obtaining my B.S. in the Natural Sciences Interdisciplinary Study Program (minor in Visual Arts) from the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, I began to work towards my PhD in Biochemistry. It is my desire and goal to influence my future by becoming a Medical Scientist. This is a profession that integrates the biomedical sciences and clinical research in order to generate more effective and precise therapeutic treatments to fight disease. Medicine is constantly changing with the advent of new discoveries and increase knowledge of disease and basic sciences. This knowledge brings about essential changes that need to be applied in the construction of modern Medicine. We know that each individual is a universe in itself and hence might not respond to medical treatments as the rest of the population and hence the need for Precision Medicine in our current Health System. In order to become a better Physician I believe that it is important to arm ourselves with the critical tools, which will enable us to narrow the gaps through translational research. This is why I decided to start graduate studies in biochemistry and obtain acuity and training in biomedical sciences and biotechnology, expanding my insights beyond my formation in the field of chemistry.
Moreover, as a biochemistry student I have become exposed to a the emerging Science of Toxicology which encompasses many research fields such as cellular signaling, differentiation, neuroscience, system biology, and development of therapeutics, adding to the equation the effects of chemicals in our environment and life. In addition, my background in humanities including visual and performing arts has influenced my view of life and made me appreciate and valued it in a special way that rotates around the love towards research in science. Creativity is the challenge of knowledge revealed by the truth of research. Being aware of this strong interest, I began to share it by providing a helping hand with analytical chemistry to graduate students under the mentorship of Dr. Liz Díaz-Vázquez, analytical chemistry professor at UPR-RP.
By becoming familiarized with the different procedures and equipment’s used in analytical chemistry research, provided the tools for developing my undergraduate research Thesis. My undergraduate research work was on the antioxidant effects of 6-gingerol from ginger extracts. The study was aimed to quantify the analyte 6-gingerol and study its activity as a bio-antioxidant in aqueous ginger extracts, by means of HPLC, photo spectroscopy and electrochemical analyses. I presented the results of my research at the “49th Junior Technical Meeting/34th Puerto Rico Interdisciplinary Scientific Meeting”, and at the “2014 Interdisciplinary Program in Natural Science Capstone Symposium”. After these experiences I received a summer fellowship at the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience in 2014 (PRCEN). Through this experience I developed a methodology for extracting and characterizing carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids from macro-algae samples collected at highly contaminated sites in Puerto Rico.
Further in 2008, during my undergraduate studies I integrated cultural experiences in my formation by being alumni of the Disney College Program at Orlando Florida for a semester. I also participated in an exchange student program at the Complutense University of Madrid Spain during the academic year of 2010-11.
I obtained a fellowship (2015) for studying at the Summer Program In Neuroscience, Ethics, and Survival at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This experience will help me familiarize with the field of neuroscience and improved my communication skills in research. It is evident that my undergraduate formation and research experiences have played a significant role in my professional development.
As a graduate student I have continued to study ginger rhizome extracts exploring their capacity to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reduce further cell apoptosis in human epithelial lung cells using Flow Cytometry. This is possible by a collaboration made with the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Center of Environmental and Toxicology Research of the University of Puerto Rico. Our work focuses on how lung epithelial cells respond to air particulate matter from different sites in order to understand the development of obstructive pulmonary diseases and asthma. Our future goal is to study the use of ginger extracts to protect against inflammatory responses triggered by the particulate matter exposure.