National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Joins Moffitt Cancer Center

August 30, 2016

Elsa Flores, Ph.D.
Elsa Flores, Ph.D.

TAMPA, Fla. – Elsa R. Flores, Ph.D., has joined Moffitt Cancer Center as the co-leader of the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program and chair of the Molecular Oncology Department. The Molecular Oncology Department investigates the biology of cancer and tumors at the cellular level to identify genes and non-coding RNAs that are involved in the initiation, progression, maintenance and metastasis of tumors. The proteins produced by those genes may serve as targets for new cancer diagnostics or therapies.

The basic science research being driven by Flores and her team in the Molecular Oncology Department will work hand-in-hand with the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program. This first-of-its-kind cancer center program combines findings coming from basic and clinical cancer research with biologists and mathematical oncologists to help devise new strategies and develop new agents to prevent and treat recurrent cancers.

“Dr. Flores raises the bar of scientific excellence at Moffitt, and her research
in the fields of cancer cell biology, metabolism and genetics, and in cancer stem cells, is truly transformative. Her exceptional talents will help Moffitt and our researchers continue to make major advances in the prevention and treatment of cancer,” said John L. Cleveland, Ph.D., associate center director of Basic Science Research at Moffitt.

Flores is a highly accomplished scientist who is widely published in top-tier journals and who has been awarded several distinguished research project grants (R01) from the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. She was named a scholar of the Rita Allen Foundation, the V Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America. In 2015, Flores received the NCI’s Outstanding Investigator Award (R35). This prestigious award supports elite leaders in cancer research who are providing significant contributions toward understanding the disease and developing applications that may lead to breakthroughs. Flores is using this grant funding to identify regulatory ribonucleic acids and pathways that can be used as drug targets for the treatment of metastatic lung and skin cancer.

Prior to joining Moffitt, Flores served as the co-director of the Metastasis Research Center and member of the Basic Science Research Division at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She was also a professor of molecular and cellular oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Flores has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in Cancer Biology from University of Wisconsin - Madison. She completed her postdoctoral training at MIT.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2.5 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,200 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube