Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

IMSD Students


Underrepresented students have found tremendous success at Baylor College of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.


Selected Accomplishments


Victor Acevedo, Ph.D., showed that fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 (FGF1) plays a role in the initiation, progression and maintenance of prostate cancer and found a potential window to slow or even reverse early stage prostate cancer.

Claudia Arambula [Geldres], Ph.D. Found that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG4)-redirected T lymphocytes could be used to treat a variety of solid tumors, and observed that combining CSPG4 T-cells and TSP1 increased the anti-tumor ability of the T-cells.

Lori Banks, Ph.D. Studied β-lactamase antibiotic resistance and
found that for the IMP-1 enzyme, substitutions at Asn233 increased,whereas substitutions at Cys221 decreased antibiotic resistance. Also found that Ser237 and Arg276 co-evolved to promote antibiotic resistance in the TEM-1 β-lactamase

William Buitrago, Ph.D., created a transgenic mouse model of a human disease that causes skin blistering and found a way to use siRNA to cure it.

Carlos Cantu, III, Ph.D., and Cristina Materon, Ph.D., identified regions of ß-lactamase that affect antibiotic resistance.

Anjelica Gonzalez, Ph.D., created a computerized microscopic system that she used to identify six molecules that are important in neutrophil attachment, spreading or migration.

Cristhian Ildefonso, Ph.D., Found that adenovirus could be used as a safe transgene vector within the eye and that the interaction between hyaluronan and CD44 helped increase adenoviral transgene expression, useful for gene therapy for ocular oncologic and degenerative diseases.

Rossitza Irobalieva, Ph.D., Solved the 3-dimensional structure of an RNA associated with HIV— at the time the smallest structure ever solved by cryo-EM and the largest structures solved by NMR. Her data may be useful for developing a vaccine to prevent AIDS.

Alaina James, M.D., Ph.D., identified effects of mutations in the androgen receptor from prostate tumors.

Richard King, M.D., Ph.D., developed a computer model to explain spacing of neurotransmitter release sites.

Christian Marin Muller, Ph.D., Patented a microRNA (MiR-198)that can attenuate pancreatic cancer, and founded a cancer therapy company, Speratum, in Costa Rica. He is currently serving on the Scientific Ethics Committee for the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica. [2014 TED talk (] (in Spanish).

Francisco Naya, Ph.D., cloned a factor regulating the insulin gene and produced a transgenic mouse model of diabetes.

Aaron Orozco, Ph.D., developed a method to enrich fetal DNA from the mother’s blood to avoid invasive prenatal diagnosis of disease.

Meagan Pitcher, Ph.D., demonstrated that the pR255X mutation within MECP2 could be rescued by introduction of wild-type, full length MECP2, which is mutated and truncated in Rett syndrome, a devastating neurodegenerative disease.

Ashley Ramirez Herrick, Ph.D., Used gene expression microarray profiling to distinguish subsets of tumors based on their expression of kinases and identified therapeutic targets in estrogen receptor a negative breast cancer samples.

Ramiro Ramirez-Solis, Ph.D., produced the first line of embryonic stem cell derived transgenic mice at Baylor.

Jonathan Respress, Ph.D., Observed that chronic phosphorylation of ryanodine receptor type 2 (RyR2) leads to RyR2-mediated Ca2+ leak, which accelerates the development of heart failure

Wilmer Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., discovered that a drug in testing to treat high blood pressure caused failure in embryonic chicken and mouse heart development.

Maria Rodriguez-Rozas, Ph.D., developed a bimolecular fluorescence method to screen 8000 proteins and identified those that interact with the BRCA1 tumor suppressor.

Javier Sanchez, Ph.D., discovered a new mechanism by which the protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss.

Hector Sandoval, Ph.D., found the first evidence of specific targeting of mammalian mitochondria for degradation during red blood cell development which may be applicable to treating people with some types of anemia, neurodegenerative diseases, or cancer.

Nancy Urizar, Ph.D., published a Science paper defining the mechanism by which a natural product, gugglesterone, lowered cholesterol was featured in hundreds of television, radio, magazine, newspaper and website communications worldwide, including CNN.


Baylor College of Medicine


Commencement Speakers/BCM Alumni Awards (6)


Outstanding student and Academic awards (55)


Outstanding BCM Graduate Student
Deborah K. Martin Award
Outstanding Graduate Student and/or Deborah K. Martin Award Nominee
Richard Dickason Award for Outstanding
Outstanding Urology Student
Best Teaching Assistant

Entering Students
BCM Presidential Students
BRASS Scholars
DeBakey Scholars
Mary Greenwood Scholar

Academic Awards
MSTP Program Award for Basic Sciences
Claude W. Smith Awards from Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
Anthony R. Means Award from MCB
John Trenton Award for Academic Excellence


National and International Awards (63)


American Psychological Society Minority Neuroscience Fellowship
Ford Foundation Minority Pre-doctoral Fellowship
National Science Foundation Minority Fellowship
Neuroscience Society Pre-doctoral Fellowship
UNCF/Merck Pre-doctoral Dissertation Fellowships
HHMI Gilliam Fellowship
Co-investigator Children's Cancer Research Fund

NIH National Research Service Awards
MARC Pre-doctoral NRSA Fellowships

Department of Defense Cancer Pre-doctoral Fellowships
SACNAS Poster Awards
American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
Young Investigator's Award

Award of Excellence Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies
ASPET Doris Shockley Best Abstract Award
Endocrine Society Presidential Poster Finalist
Endocrine Society Minority Mentoring Poster Award
FOCIS Trainee Satellite Symposium Research Award
Gordon Conference Best PhD Poster
WAESCO Third Place Research Award
Society of Toxicology
Cambridge Health Institute of Cancer Models Symposium First Place Research
FASEB Poster Award Vision Research
Weintraub Award to Outstanding U.S. Ph.D. Students
American Society of Cell Biology
FEBS Course: International ABC Proteins: Young Investigator Award
11th International Congress of Human Genetics-Best Poster Presentation
International Tularemia Conference
EAPSI Fellowship (Singapore)
Nominated to attend Nobel Prize Lectures
Selected to Attend Nobel Prize Lecturers Meeting in Germany
Congress on Human Genetics
International Workshop of Neuroendocrinology Bronze Medal Poster Award
NIH Supplements to Mentors’ Grants
Lynch Addiction Research Award


Houston Area Fellowships (15)


BCM Licensing Group Internship
Houston Area Biophysics Grant
Keck Nanobiology Training Fellowship
CPRIT Fellowship
Genes and Environment
National Library of Medicine
Keck Pharmacological Sciences
Keck Center Fellowships for Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training
Pharmacoinformatics Keck Fellowship
Lynch Addiction Research Award


Leadership Awards/Medical Awards (14)


Houston Outreach Medicine Education & Social Services Clinic
Award for Outstanding Leadership Potential

M.D./Ph.D. Program Service Award
M.D./Ph.D. Highest Honors
Woman of Wonder - Quaker Oats Award


Mentoring/Professional Development Programs (36)


AARC Scholar-in-Training
Endocrine Society FLARE Award
Endocrine Society FLARE Internship
FASEB Teaching/Mentoring Award

GlaxoSmithKline Summer Internship
Interdisciplinary Res Train Inst Human Drug Abuse

Jackson Laboratory Molecular Genetics Course
Neuroscience Society Scholar
Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program

UCSB Summer Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
National Minority Research Forum
Biotechnology Institute Minority and Indigenous Fellows Program
American Society of Microbiology Science Teaching Fellowship Program
University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Post-Doctoral Scholarship


Travel Awards (40)


AARC Travel Award
ABC Protein International Conference

American Society for Cell & Gene Therapy
ARVO Conference
ASCB Conference
American Society for Cell & Gene Therapy
American Society Human Genetics
American Society for Microbiology
American Physiological Society travel
Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction

Cold Spring Harbor Asia
Building Future Faculty
Developmental Biology Conference
College on Problems of Drug Dependence Scientific Meeting

EMBO Intern Conference
FASEB Conference ASPET

FASEB MARC Travel Awards
Gordon Conference
Hypertension Canada
International Congress on Human Genetics

International Gordon Conference
International Neuroendocrinology Workshop
Johnson & Johnson Travel Award
Keystone Conference

NIAAA to NHSN International Scientific Conference
SACNAS Conference
Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
Society for Study of Reproduction

Tenneco Fellow. NeuroStereology Workshop
Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab
US-South America Neuroscience Workshop

ASPET Washington Fellow
2014 CPDD Oral Presentation



Research Awards (67)


BCM Graduate Student Symposium
Outstanding Platform Presentation
Commendation for Platform Presentation
First Place Poster
Second Place Poster
Third Place Poster
Poster Finalists
Honorable Mention

BCM/UT Research Symposium Awards
Biochemistry Retreat Awards
Breast Center Retreat Awards
Claude W. Smith Award
Huffington Center on Aging Retreat Awards
Immunology Retreat Awards
Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Retreat Awards

M.D./Ph.D Program Retreat Awards
Molecular and Cellular Biology Retreat Awards
Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Molecular Virology and Microbiology Retreat Awards
Molecular Surgeon Young Investigator

Structural Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics Retreat Awards
Translational Biology & Molecular Medicine Awards

University of Houston Neuroscience Research Center

*()number of recipients