The MD Anderson Postdoctoral Association fosters an active and engaged postdoctoral community at our institution. The association and its projects are managed by postdocs, giving our trainees the opportunity to cultivate leadership experience.
Some of the association’s responsibilities include:
Informing and Advocating for Postdocs
Every quarter, the association and the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows cohost a town hall to broach concerns, solicit feedback and inform trainees about upcoming events benefitting them. The association is also an advocate for postdocs, regularly promoting an active dialogue between the trainee population and our institution’s administration and faculty.
The association creates and manages several interest groups meant to bring together postdocs with shared research and career interests, or similar life experiences, such as first-generation graduates or international trainees. It also plans two large annual events: The Annual Postdoc Science Symposium, a platform for postdocs to present their work and oral presentations to MD Anderson faculty; and the Annual Postdoc Career Symposium, a TMC-wide event that features a series of panel discussions and workshops to facilitate networking and help trainees navigate a successful career after their training.
Career Exploration Activities
The Postdoctoral Association works with the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows to host a monthly career exploration event. Experts from various industries are invited to speak about their careers and engage in intimate group discussions, giving trainees the opportunity to dive deeper into multiple career paths. These events also serve as another way to connect with alumni and other experts who are already working in these fields.
Recognition & Support
The Postdoctoral Association facilitates the Chamberlain Mentoring Award, which acknowledges postdoctoral mentors who demonstrate excellence in mentoring young scientists. It also manages our professional development grants, or funding for postdocs looking to acquire knowledge or skills or explore a full spectrum of careers, even those that stretch beyond the typical boundaries of the field of research.
The MD Anderson Postdoctoral Association is led by the executive committee's co-chairs. They serve on a number of institutional committees as representatives of the postdoctoral community. The co-chairs and the leads of the Awards, Communications, Events & Outreach, Postdoctoral Affairs & Advocacy and Professional Development teams form the executive committee.
Didem Ağaç Çobanoğlu, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Postdoctoral Association Executive Committee
Dr. Çobanoğlu is an Odyssey Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. James P. Allison in the Department of Immunology. Her research focuses on finding novel immunosuppressive pathways in the tumor microenvironment. Her previous research has shown that signaling through adrenergic receptors impair adaptive and innate immune cells’ function and promote immunosuppression. She is currently investigating the role of neurotransmitters in the tumor microenvironment and trying to uncover novel immunosuppressive pathways that can be targeted by repurposing drugs.
Jezreel Pantaleon Garcia, M.D.
Co-Chair, Postdoctoral Association Executive Committee
Dr. Pantaleon Garcia is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Scott E. Evans. His research involves mechanistic studies to understand the phenomenon of inducible resistance in lung epithelium that protects against pneumonia, particularly to prevent pulmonary infections in susceptible immunocompromised cancer patients. Currently, he proudly collaborates internationally to strengthen research capacity of developing countries in Latin America as an adjunct professor of Tecnologico de Monterrey’s Medical School in Mexico and as member of the global MECOR program sponsored by the American Thoracic Society and Asociacion Latinoamericana de Torax.
The Awards Team is responsible for managing nominations and calls for application for two award programs on behalf of the Postdoctoral Association: (1) the Professional Development and Travel Awards for postdoctoral fellows, and (2) the Robert M. Chamberlain Distinguished Mentor Award.
Yajing He, M.D., Ph.D.
The Communications Team is responsible for facilitating effective communications between the PDA Executive Committee, postdoctoral fellows, mentors, and all other stakeholders in postdoc education. The team manages the PDA email account and spearheads the effective use of social media and other communication platforms. The Communications Team contributes content to the Postdoc Notes newsletter published by the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows.
Sabbir Khan, Ph.D.
The Events and Outreach Team promotes the engagement of the postdoctoral community by coordinating social and networking opportunities, supporting the Smart Track new postdoc orientation, and organizing special events such as Postdoc Town Halls and Trainee Research Day.
Ivan Vazquez, Ph.D.
Members of the Postdoctoral Affairs and Policies Team represent MD Anderson postdocs and provide input on current policies, proposed changes, and how these affect postdoctoral fellows. By providing points of view from the postdoctoral fellows the Postdoctoral Affairs and Policies Team ensures that policies, procedures, pay, benefits, etc. are responsive to the needs and the concerns of the postdoc community.
Travis Salzillo, Ph.D.
The Professional Development Team is responsible for organizing career and professional development activities in partnership with the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows. Members of this team help organize the monthly Career Exploration Series, support interest groups, and identify professional development opportunities for postdoctoral fellows.
Emilly Schlee Villadore, Ph.D.