After graduating from the MD/PhD program at the MD Anderson/UT-Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and UT-Houston McGovern Medical School, I completed adult neurology residency at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. During residency, I was afforded six months of protected research time through a NINDS R25 Translational Neuroscience Training Grant and an American Medical Association Foundation Research Seed Grant to study 18F-FDOPA PET imaging in human glioblastoma. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular imaging co-mentored by Dr. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir (Department of Radiology) and Dr. Lawrence Recht (Department of Neurology) and a clinical fellowship in neuro-oncology (Department of Neurology) at Stanford University School of Medicine. My postdoctoral research was supported by the NINDS R25 Translational Neuroscience Training Grant, Stanford Cancer Institute Fellowship Award for Cancer Research, American Brain Tumor Association Basic Research Fellowship (supported by the Ryan J. Hanrahan Memorial), and Stanford Society of Physician Scholars Grant.
Currently I am a clinical instructor in neuro-oncology. My research focuses on therapeutics and diagnostics in neuro-oncology. First, I am studying tumor treating fields (TTFields, a form of alternating electric fields directed at the tumor via electrodes placed on the skin), a novel therapy with FDA approval in patients with glioblastoma and malignant pleural mesothelioma. The mechanisms of action of this emerging anti-cancer modality are not wholly understood and need to be elucidated in order to develop regimens that effectively combine TTFields with traditional modalities (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy) and other emerging approaches (e.g. immunotherapy). Second, I am collaborating with radiochemistry colleagues to translate the [18F]DASA-23 radiotracer, which measures aberrantly-expressed pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) in cancer cells, to the neuro-oncology clinic with a first-in-human clinical trial in healthy volunteers and patients with intracranial brain tumors.
My goal as a physician-scientist in academic neuro-oncology is to focus on translational research that is scientifically sound, and as important, has the highest potential to make a clinically-significant extension in the survival of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma, while maintaining their quality of life. In order to achieve this goal, I have sought guidance from mentors, attended career development workshops (NINDS, American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, Young Investigators Forum in Neuro-Oncology), served in national leadership positions (American Physician Scientists Association, American Medical Association Medical Student Section Committee on Scientific Issues), and engaged in discussions with colleagues in the lab and the clinic.
Through its comprehensive programming for trainees and early-career scientists in cancer research, the AACR Associate Member Council (AMC) offers multiple research collaboration, mentorship, networking, and other career development opportunities. I joined the AACR as an Associate member in 2016, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the AMC with like-minded colleagues dedicated to quality resources and programming targeting trainees at each stage of their careers.