Expert in Drug Delivery, Nutrigenomics/Epigenetics, Molecular Cancer Biology, Mouse Models, Cell Based Assays
Expert has extensive understanding in animal models and cell-based assays looking at carcinogenesis and protumorigenic agents. Her research has provided invaluable data for the fight against postmenopausal breast cancer, particularly in the context of obesity and chemtherapy resistance. Her public health background in epidemiology gives her a unique perspective for the development and establishment of basic, preclinical, clinical, and translational studies looking to diminish the burden of cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. Expert strongly believes that cancer research should be approached from a multidisciplinary perspective.
During the past several years, she has been focused on studying nanoparticle drug delivery as a way to overcome the effect of obesity on breast tumor growth and resistance to therapy. During her time as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dell Pediatric Research Institute (DPRI), expert completed several animal studies looking at the effects of different nanoparticle formulations on breast and pancreatic tumor growth. One of the studies focused on the response to docetaxel (DTX) alone or incorporated in PLGA nanoparticles on tumor growth driven by overexpression of the Wnt-1 oncogene. This work has been presented in several national meetings including the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) annual meeting and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting as well. Another study examined antiproliferative responses of gemcitabine-HCl and gemc18 alone or incorporated in lecithin nanoparticles in C57BL/6 mice injected with MMTV-Wnt-1 mammary tumor cells. Results from this study strongly support the role of obesity in promoting tumor growth and invasiveness while decreasing tumor response to a standard chemotherapy. These findings also suggest that delivering a chemotherapeutic drug with nanoparticles can potentially overcome chemotherapy resistance in obese patients.
Expert elucidated the effects of former obesity on IGF-1/Akt signaling, cytokine expression, and tumor growth in a mouse model of postmenopausal breast cancer and she characterized the effects of bioactive food components including ursolic acid, on postmenopausal mammary tumor growth and Akt/mTOR signaling. Expert identified the role of dairy calcium on body weight and body composition in a postmenopausal mouse model and found that the beneficial effects of dietary calcium on body weight and bone health after menopause may be significantly influenced by other non-calcium dietary components.
Expert is a molecular nutrition scientist with a strong background in public health. Expert's training and research experience focus on the study of obesity as an important risk factor for several human cancers, and the prevention of obesity via diet changes and pharmacologic interventions in animal studies. Expertise in the area of diet-gene interactions relevant to cancer prevention, particularly the molecular and hormonal mechanisms underlying energy balance-cancer associations and response to chemotherapy. Significant experience in diet-induced and genetic obesity in mouse models and its association with key molecular pathways linking energy balance and carcinogenesis.
She developed an in vitro model of “obesity” to determine the effects of adipocyte-conditioned media on tumor cell proliferation and gene/protein expression.
Extensive knowledge of complex scientific and technical issues in the following areas:
1. Mechanism-based nutrition and cancer prevention studies.
2. Mechanisms underlying the energy balance and carcinogenesis relationship. Significant experience studying response to small molecule inhibitors and hormonal therapy for the treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer in a mouse model of genetic obesity.
3. Translational nutrition and chemo-resistance studies.
Expert may consult nationally and internationally, and is also local to the following cities: San Antonio, Texas - Austin, Texas - Killeen, Texas - College Station, Texas - Bryan, Texas - Round Rock, Texas - Victoria, Texas - Temple, Texas
|Year: 2010||Degree: PhD||Subject: Molecular nutrition and cancer biology||Institution: The University of Texas at Austin|
|Year: 2004||Degree: MPH||Subject: Epidemiology||Institution: Loma Linda University|
|Year: 2001||Degree: BS||Subject: Biology,||Institution: Antillean Adventist University|
|Year: 1998||Degree: AS||Subject: Respiratory therapy||Institution: Antillean Adventist University|
|Years: 2010 to Present||Employer: Undisclosed||Title: Postdoctoral research fellow||Department: Pharmaceutics||Responsibilities: • She established standard operating procedures for the development of in vitro models of “obesity” with the aim of determining the effects of adipocytes on tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance. • Took responsibilities for setting and developing research projects to incorporate bioactive food components in novel liposome’s as delivery agents to treat cancer. • Successfully led projects incorporating novel lecithin nanoparticles as delivery systems to overcome chemotherapy resistance in the context of obesity in mouse models of cancer. Generating remarkable data showing increased response to therapy.
|Years: 1995 to 2010||Employer: The University of Texas at Austin||Title: Graduate researcher||Department: Nutritional Sciences||Responsibilities: • Expert led a team of students to quickly identify the effects of bioactive food components on postmenopausal mammary tumor growth. Resulting in successful identification of ursolic acid as a potent antitumorigenic agent.
• She gave directions on research plans, method development, strategies and procedures on generating publishable data for seven-member team of students in the Nutrition Department at UT.
• Looked over the strategic management and operational oversight of research projects identifying the effects of former obesity on IGF-1/Akt signaling, cytokine expression, and tumor growth in a mouse model of postmenopausal breast cancer.
• Identified genetic-obesity-related mechanisms that result in decreased response to chemotherapy for postmenopausal breast cancer.
• Expert also established a mentorship program for undergraduate students in the Hursting lab at UT.
|Years: 2004 to 2006||Employer: Essential Technologies||Title: Sales Director||Department: Sales||Responsibilities: • Expert was responsible for leading the regional sales team of the company, creating a 40 percent increase in sales and revenue figure of half a million in the year of 2005.
• She also established financial relationships with Ingram Micro, Synnex Coorporation, and Tech Data.
|Years: 2004 to 2005||Employer: North Austin Medical Center||Title: Certified Respiratory Therapist||Department: Respiratory Department||Responsibilities: • Expert contributed to improvement in the cardiopulmonary function and respiratory health of people with heart and lung abnormalities and disease.
• She took responsibilities for therapeutic procedures to inpatients and outpatients suffering from either acute or chronic respiratory problems.
• Expert performed regular assessments of patients on assisted ventilation.
|Years: 2002 to 2004||Employer: Loma Linda University Medical Center||Title: Certified Respiratory Therapist||Department: Respiratory Department||Responsibilities: • Expert was part of a team involved in the evaluation and monitoring of heart and lung function, assisted ventilation, and administration of treatment.
• Provided assisted ventilation support, health assessment, and cardio-pulmonary therapy for neonatal and pediatric patients with heart and lung disorders.
|Years||Country / Region||Summary|
|Years: 1998 to 2001||Country / Region: USVI||Summary: She has substantial experience in developing, implementing, and supervising health assessment programs and health seminars. She has also organized health expos in St. Thomas, St. Johns and other USVI. Many of these expos were developed in conjunction with the Nursing Department at the Antillean Adventist University in Mayaguez, PR.|
|Associations / Societies|
|American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
Women in Science
Project Management International
|Publications and Patents Summary|
|She has 4 peer-reviewed publications, 2 manuscripts in preparation, 1 book chapter, and more than 10 conference abstracts in the area of cancer research and energy balance.|
|English||Fluent and very proficient in English.|
|Spanish||She is a native Spanish speaker.|