Research Education and Training News

January 2020

MacLean HallCongratulations to Cancer Biology PhD student MacLean Hall, from the Pilon-Thomas Lab, who has been awarded an F31 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MacLean will receive $35,000 each year through 2022 for his project titled "The importance of CD4+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) in adoptive cell transfer."

According to the National Cancer Institute, "The NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) Award supports promising doctoral candidates who will perform dissertation research and training for a PhD degree in a scientific health-related field relevant to the mission of the NCI during the tenure of the award."


December 2019

RET holiday activityThe Research Education and Training office hosted an ugly sweater-themed holiday party for research scientists, postdocs and graduate students on Dec. 20. The gingerbread house contest was a big hit. Another popular activity was the card decorating station where everyone got to express their imagination and artistry. 

The RET office spread some holiday cheer on Dec. 23 by distributing these cards to our patients.


November 2019

Aya Elmarsafawi, USF 3-T WinnerAya Elmarsafawi won USF's 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT). 

The 3MT is a competition that challenges research higher degree students to explain their thesis or dissertation to a "non-specialist audience" using non-technical language within three minutes.

Aya's thesis is studying enhancing formation of memory T cells to enhance the durability of cancer immunotherapies by manipulating metabolic pathways within the T cells, specifically via targeting metabolites known as polyamines. She will go on to compete in the National Competition in Birmingham, Alabama in March.

Learn more about the 2020 CSGS 3 Minute Thesis Competition.


Brent KuenziBrent Kuenzi, a 2018 graduate of the Cancer Biology PhD Program, was selected for the Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award at USF on Nov. 19.

The award is given to three to four exceptional students per year. Brent dissertation under the mentorship of Dr. Uwe Rix was entitled "Off-target Based Drug Repurposing Using System Pharmacology." Brent published 14 research articles from his graduate work including first author publications in Nature Chemical Biology and Science Reports. Brent received the highly competitive NCI F99/K00 grant that supported completion of his graduate work and continues to support him as a post-doctoral fellow. He is currently training at the University of California San Diego.


Every year the Cancer Biology PhD Program hosts a picnic for the students and their mentors to socialize and to discuss program updates. This year, plenty of games, food, and adorable puppies generated much enthusiasm at the Graduate Student and Mentor Fall Picnic held on Nov. 1 at USF Riverfront Park. 

Chris Letson and Alycia Gardner, former president and vice-president of the Cancer Biology Student Organization (CBSO), were recognized for serving two consecutive years as leaders in CBSO and received gifts for their dedicated service.

New Co-Presidents, Wendy Kandell and Bina Desai, were welcomed by the group and spoke about how they are looking forward to leading the students for the next year.

Cancer Biology PhD Picnic


October 2019

Pumpkin carving contestThe Research Education and Training office carved out some fun at our pumpkin carving contest on Oct. 30.

Graduate students, postdocs, and research scientists were invited to participate in the contest, competing for a chance to be one of the top three teams taking home a prize. Teams were given an hour to clean, trace and carve their pumpkins.

Pumpkins were displayed on Halloween in the SRB lobby.