UF Health Cancer Center hosts AACR Global Scholar-in-Training Awardees

The UF Health Cancer Center hosted the 15 recipients of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Global Scholar-in-Training Awards for a visit after this year’s AACR Annual Meeting in Orlando. The scholars traveled to Gainesville after the meeting ended on April 19 and had the opportunity to network with UF Health Cancer Center faculty and trainees at an evening social reception at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center. On Thursday morning, the scholars toured the Cancer Center’s research facilities and learned about career paths.

The UF Health Cancer Center hosted the 15 recipients of the AACR Global Scholar-in-Training Awards for a social reception and visit on April 19-20.

“The Cancer Center was honored to provide this opportunity for the trainees to see the cutting-edge cancer research we’re conducting, as well as hear about potential career paths and build connections,” said Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D., associate director of education and training at the UF Health Cancer Center. “It’s great to have exposure to trainees from countries around the world; it’s rewarding and it’s incredibly exciting to share our world-class research with such promising scholars.”

The AACR Global Scholar-in-Training Awards support the career development of meritorious early-career scientists from countries building cancer research capacities. This year, the program brought scientists from 10 countries — Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Jordan, Malawi, Nigeria, Peru, and Thailand — to participate in the Annual Meeting. The AACR selected the UF Health Cancer Center to host the scholars after the meeting.

During Thursday’s visit, Jonathan D. Licht, M.D., director of the Cancer Center, provided an overview of the Cancer Center and the trainees briefly presented their research. Afterward, Steven Madore, Ph.D., associate director for shared resources, led a tour of the center’s shared resources. Doctoral candidates Siddhi Chitre and Rachel Newsome also led tours of cancer research laboratories in the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex.

The morning concluded with a panel discussion on career paths, transitions and the importance of work-life balance. Siemann selected two faculty members — Paul Castillo Caro, M.D., and Olga Guryanova, M.D., Ph.D., and two trainees — Bayli DiVita Dean, Ph.D., and Gabriel Prado, Ph.D., to provide a variety of perspectives, ranging from how to transition from academia to industry to challenges involving visas.

Castillo Caro, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics in the UF College of Medicine who is from Peru, discussed the obstacles he faced as an international physician-scientist. “Always keep a positive mentality that things will get better; be patient and persevere,” he advised.

Prado and DiVita Dean shared their perspectives on balancing a cancer research career with the demands of a young family. Guryanova discussed the importance of building a network of mentors, as well as a support network inside and outside of work. “Building your chosen family is going to be the biggest contributor to your success,” she said.

For the scholars, the visit provided a beneficial capstone to their AACR experience.

Andres Elia, a Ph.D. candidate at the Instituto de Biologia y Medicina Experimental in Buenos Aires, Argentina, said he found it valuable to learn more about how research and clinical care connect in the United States.

“It was a great opportunity to learn something different from our country and see the technology and facilities here,” said Elia, whose research focuses on biomarkers in breast cancer. “To better understand the process to develop your career was quite interesting.”

The visit allowed Salma Fala, M.D., from the faculty of medicine at Suez Canal University in Egypt, to meet new people and share her research with a range of specialists. “Making connections and hearing about future opportunities has been priceless,” she said.

“Making connections and hearing about future opportunities has been priceless.”

Salma Fala, M.D.

Meet the scholars


Bayan Abu AlRagheb
Medical Student
University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan

Ayodeji Adegoke, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Anshika Chauhan, MSc
Ph.D. Candidate
Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research,
Chandigarh, India

Montana Manselle Cocco
Ph.D. Candidate
Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental, Buenos Aires City, Argentina

Andres Elia
Ph.D. Candidate
Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental, Buenos Aires City, Argentina

Salma Fala, M.D.
Faculty of Medicine
Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt

Vidit Gaur
Ph.D. Candidate
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, India

Yazan Hamadneh
Medical Student, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan

Abram Kamiza, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Kelly Meza, M.D.
Research Fellow
Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplasicas, Lima, Peru

Aditi Patel
Ph.D. Candidate
Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad, India

Agustina Sabater
Ph.D. Candidate
Institute of Biological Chemistry of the School of Sciences, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Buenos Aires City, Argentina

Juliana Siqueira, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Brazilian National Cancer Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Kamonlapat Supimon, Ph.D.
Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

Jiazhang Xing
Medical Student, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China