Postdoctoral Association

Mission Statement

The mission of the MPDA is to foster the academic, professional, and social lives of junior scientists at Moffitt Cancer Center.

The five fundamental goals of the MPDA are:

  1. To provide support for postdoctoral career development through partnership with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) for academic and non-academic scientific career seminars and networking opportunities.
  2. To collect and disseminate practical information to all fellows.
  3. To embrace and celebrate the multicultural diversity of the members of the MPDA.
  4. To promote social interaction and create an environment in which peer support is openly sought and available.
  5. To offer guidance to postdocs to assist them in the transition from student to postdoctoral fellow then beyond.

Please meet the 2020-2021 Moffitt Postdoctoral Executive Council (MPDA):

Chair
Laura Torrente

I obtained my Ph.D. degree in 2017 from the University of Dundee (United Kingdom). I have been working at Moffitt for the last three years as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. DeNicola’s laboratory in the Cancer Physiology Department. My research focuses on developing therapeutic strategies to selectively target lung tumors harboring alterations in the NRF2/KEAP1 pathway to contribute to the personalization of lung cancer treatment. In my spare time, I love spending time outdoors and I particularly enjoy visiting Florida’s national parks, kayaking and fishing. I am also a beginner, and mostly self-taught, amateur seamstress.

Vice-Chair
Traci Kruer

I obtained my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Louisville where I studied novel biomarkers for response to therapy in breast cancer. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Eric Padron’s lab in the Department of Malignant Hematology. My research focuses on mechanisms of resistance to therapy in CMML and AML. When I’m not doing research, I study Egyptian Oriental and Folkloric Middle Eastern dance.

Communications
Monica Reyes

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the T32 Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer Program in the Department of Cancer Epidemiology. I completed my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in the Cancer Biology Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The central focus of my current research is to build risk models across the cancer continuum for clinical decision support. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, running, playing chess and spending time with my family.

Junior Scientist Retreat
Joseph Combs

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Cancer Physiology. I received my bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology at the University of Florida and my Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Tulane University. My research focus is on non-essential amino acid metabolism in normal tissues and in cancer. I hope to pull off a successful, fun and informative Junior Scientist Retreat as chair of JSR. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading and writing fiction and weightlifting.

Distinguished Lecture Series
Francesca Vena

I completed my Ph.D. at University College London Cancer Institute to study the role of MEK protein in pancreatic cancer. I am currently in the Duckett lab under in the drug discovery department, where I am investigating molecular mechanisms involved in the resistance of HER2 and PI3K inhibitors in metastatic HER2+ breast cancer models and testing new therapeutic targets that would restore sensitivity to these agents. My greatest interest outside of work? Traveling!  

Science Advocacy
Alex Soupir

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Tumor Biology Department. My Ph.D. was focused on the characterization of beneficial bacteria, but also included novel genome sequencing and genotyping. Current research interests include identifying cancer biomarkers in blood as well as assays to detect them. In my free time I enjoy teaching others what I have learned over the last few years in addition to learning new skills myself that I have a personal passion for.

Social/Diversity
Olga Vera Puent

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Karreth lab. I obtained my Ph.D. at the University Hospital la Paz, in Spain where I studied the epigenetic regulation of non-coding RNAs in chemoresistance of lung and ovarian cancers. My work in the Karreth lab is focused on the identification of novel drivers of melanoma by using innovative RNA biology approaches and the ESC-GEMM platform developed by the Karreth lab. When I'm not doing research, I spend my free time cooking, playing guitar, reading and walking outdoors.

Service
Traci Kruer

I obtained my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Louisville where I studied novel biomarkers for response to therapy in breast cancer. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Eric Padron’s lab in the Department of Malignant Hematology. My research focuses on mechanisms of resistance to therapy in CMML and AML. When I’m not doing research, I study Egyptian Oriental and Folkloric Middle Eastern dance.

To contact the current Executive Council, email mpda@moffitt.org.

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