The PDAEC plans events that promote community among postdocs at MD Anderson and fosters interactions between postdocs of other Houston-area institutions. Postdocs active in the PDAEC drive the PDA agenda, network with faculty and other scientists and develop career-enhancing skills that can inform their resume.
The PDAEC is comprised of three teams: Governance, Community Engagement and Career Advancement. Each team has three or four subcommittees (arranged accordingly below). To join the PDAEC as a regular member please contact the Co-chairs for a meeting invitation. Chairs and subcommittee chairs are elected positions unless extenuating circumstances dictate otherwise.
Chairs and subcommittee chairs for Fiscal Year 2020 will be announced soon. Check back later for updates to the roster below.
Simone Punt, Ph.D.
Dr. Punt is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Hwu in the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology. Her research focuses on finding novel targets to improve immunotherapy by using shRNA and gRNA high-throughput screens. One of the main interests is on improving immunotherapy by targeting cellular (tumor or T cell) metabolism. In previous years she was the chair of the Communications subcommittee and vice-chair of the Career Development subcommittee. She will continue to serve the MD Anderson postdoctoral community as chair of the Executive Committee.
Javiera Beatriz Bravo-Alegria, Ph.D.
Dr. Bravo-Alegria is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Vydia Gopalakrishnan’s laboratory in the department of Pediatrics-Research. Her main research interests include the study of the brain development and microenvironment and the cell-to-cell communication with tumor cells. Javiera has served in the PDAEC since she started working in MD Anderson in 2017 and this year she will continue to serve as co-chair for the Executive Committee.
Akosua Agyeman Badu-Nkansah, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - Internal Communications (Chair)
Dr. Badu-Nkansah is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology under the mentorship of Dr. Dihua Yu. Her research focuses on identifying and targeting mechanisms promoting breast cancer metastasis to the brain. As chair of Internal Communications, she will maintain PDAEC meeting notes and coordinate conference calls with the MD Anderson PDAEC members from Science Park.
Sandeep Mittal, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - Internal Communications (Vice Chair)
Dr. Mittal is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. John F. de Groot in the Department of Neuro-Oncology. His research focuses on to identify and target the underlying molecular mechanisms of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) resistance to antiangiogenic therapy and molecularly target agents. As vice-chair of the Internal Communications Committee he will assist the chair in all communication needs and in maintaining the PDAEC meeting notes.
Policy & Responsible Conduct of Research
Irtiza Hasan, M.D.
Subcommittee – Policy (Chair)
Subcommittee - Responsible Conduct of Research (Vice -chair)
Dr. Hasan is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Frederick F. Lang in the Department of Neurosurgery. Dr. Hasan’s research focuses on the screening of microRNA library for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) the most common and very aggressive type of malignant brain tumor among adults. As chair of the Policy subcommittee, Hasan will maintain committee records, bylaws and administer and oversee elections. As vice-chair of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) subcommittee, he will support Dr. Rupa Kanchi, the RCR Chair, in organizing monthly RCR lectures and work to spread awareness about performing research responsibly.
Rupa Kanchi, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - Responsible Conduct of Research - (Chair)
Subcommittee – Policy (Vice-chair)
Dr. Kanchi is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Naveen Garg in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology. Dr. Kanchi’s research focuses on the use of bioinformatics and machine learning methods in order to understand the diverse data types in cancer genetics. Her current work deals with learning from radiological image data such as MRI, PET and CT. As chair of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) subcommittee, she leads the organization of monthly RCR lectures and promotes awareness about performing research responsibly. As vice-chair of the Policy subcommittee, Dr Kanchi will work with the chair to maintain bylaws, oversee policy issues and administer elections.
Jemima C. John, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – Communications (Chair)
Dr. John is a Health Disparities Research postdoctoral fellow in the division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. Her research focuses on the influences of social support, social control and partner relationships on physical activity (PA), related health behaviors, and cancer risk reduction in underserved populations, such as Hispanic and African American Populations. As chair of the Communications subcommittee she will promote an environment where the PDAEC continues to expand its reach and engagement with postdoctoral fellows throughout the institution. She also aims to be at the forefront of communicating institutional research seminars, workshops and research collaborative events that foster intellectual growth and research expertise and independence among MD Anderson postdoctoral fellows.
Mohsin Shah, M.B.B.S
Subcommittee - Communications (Vice-chair)
Dr. Shah is a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship Sai-Ching Yeung, MD, PhD and Cielito C. Reyes, DrPH. His research focuses on identifying and assessing toxicities in patients who receive immunotherapy. As vice-chair of the Communications subcommittee he will assist the chair in all communication needs and facilitate an open dialogue between postdoctoral fellows and the MD Anderson community.
Robert M. Chamberlain Mentor Award
Jezreel Pantaleon Garcia, M.D.
Subcommittee – Mentor Award (Chair)
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. As chair of the Mentor Award subcommittee he will work to incorporate professional skill development and networking opportunities that nurture the bond and capacity between mentors and the postdoctoral community at MD Anderson.
Subcommittee – Mentor Award (Vice-chair)
Dr. Acharya is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology under the supervision of Dr. Dihua Yu. His research interest is focused on understanding a molecular mechanism by which breast cancer metastasizes to distant organs, such as lungs and brain and identify druggable molecular targets against metastasis. As a new member of the PDAEC and vice-chair of the Robert M. Chamberlain Mentor Award subcommittee, he will work with the Chair to coordinate the selection process as well as the ceremony and reception.
Karem Court, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – Outreach (Chair)
Dr. Court is a postdoctoral fellow in Department of Gynecology Oncology under the mentorship of Dr. Anil K. Sood. Her PhD research was in magnetic fluid hyperthermia for cancer treatment. Her current work centers in exosomes and nanotechnology for ovarian cancer treatment. She has been part of the PDAEC since 2017, and as the chair of the Outreach subcommittee, she will organize with the vice chair networking and outreach events for postdoctoral fellows.
Sunil Accharya, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – Outreach (Vice-chair)
Dr. Acharya is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology under the supervision of Dr. Dihua Yu. His research interest is focused on understanding a molecular mechanism by which breast cancer metastasizes to distant organs, such as lungs and brain and identify druggable molecular targets against metastasis. An enthusiastic new member of the PDAEC, Dr. Acharya is vice-chair of the Outreach subcommittee. In this role he will work with the Outreach chair to extend the reach of the postdoctoral association and promote collegiality among the postdoctoral scientists at MD Anderson.
Subcommittee - Science Park (Chair)
Dr. Saha is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Blaine Bartholomew in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. Having completed his PhD in India in transcriptional regulation of human telomerase by metastasis suppressor protein. Dhurjhoti’s present work focuses on elucidating the role of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeler in RNA polymerase pausing and how this regulation effects the maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cell pluripotency. Understanding this regulation will help to decipher the chromatin dynamics during cellular development. As chair of Science Park he will foster collaborations of the Science Park postdoc community with members of the postdoctoral community in Houston.
Monika A. Zelazowska, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - Science Park (Vice-chair)
Dr. Zelazowska is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin McBride in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. Her current research is focused on analysis of alterations in immunological responses caused by infection with oncogenic gammaherpesvirus. As vice-chair of the PDAEC in Science Park she is looking forward to serving her local postdoctoral community and will continue to strengthen the collaborations with Houston campus.
Annual Postdoctoral Career Symposium
Vrutant Shah, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – APCS (Chair)
Dr. Shah is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michelle Barton in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. His research focuses on understanding molecular mechanism in the initiation and progression of TRIM24 derived mammary carcinosarcomas, a subtype of TNBC. In the previous year he served on the organizing committee of Annual Postdoctoral Career Symposium (APCS). This year, as the MD Anderson chair of the APCS subcommittee, Dr. Shah will collaborate with postdoctoral fellows across TMC to organize APCS, an event that highlights career options and networking opportunities for current postdoctoral fellows, promote participation of MD Anderson postdocs and update members of the PDAEC of plans and progress.
Akosua Agyeman Badu-Nkansah, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – APCS (Vice Chair)
Dr. Badu-Nkansah is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology under the mentorship of Dr. Dihua Yu. Her research focuses on identifying and targeting mechanisms promoting breast cancer metastasis to the brain. As an organizing committee member for the 2018 Annual Postdoctoral Career Symposium (APCS) she invited panelists for multiple sessions and recruited volunteers to manage various tasks during the symposium. As vice-chair of the MD Anderson APCS Subcommittee, she will serve on the FY19 APCS organizing committee and work with the MD Anderson chair to promote participation of MD Anderson postdocs as well as update the MD Anderson postdoc community of FY19 APCS plans and progress.
Annual Postdoctoral Science Symposium
Lisa Maria Mustachio, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - APSS (Chair)
Lisa Maria Mustachio, PhD received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Drew University in New Jersey. In 2016, she earned her PhD in Experimental and Molecular Medicine from Dartmouth College where she studied post-translational modifications in non-small cell lung cancer in the lab of Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD. She is completing her postdoctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Sharon Dent in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis where her research focuses on targeting potential oncoproteins in the SAGA coactivator complex in lung cancer. As chair of the 2019 Annual Postdoctoral Science Symposium (APSS), she will work with the vice chair, Dr. Shivanand Pudakalakatti, and other subcommittee members to highlight the research of postdoctoral colleagues, present key research conducted by invited faculty and provide informational sessions to help postdocs flourish in their current and future career paths.
Shivanand Pudakalakatti, Ph.D.
Subcommittee - APSS (Vice-chair)
Dr. Pudakalakatti works as postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Pratip Bhattacharya’s lab in the department of Cancer Systems Imaging. My research interest involves early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer by targeted molecular imaging using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The targeted imaging is based on ligand-receptor interaction involving antibody functionalized hyperpolarized silicon nanoparticles as ligand and mucin-1 (MUC-1) protein as target receptor which over expresses on the surface of pancreatic cancer tumor. As a vice-chair of APSS subcommittee I will help the chair to organize and plan APSS event effectively.
Neus Bota-Rabassedas, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – Career Development (Chair)
Dr. Bota-Rabassedas is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Kurie in the Department of Thoracic/Head&Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Bota-Rabasseda’s research focuses on the role that the microenvironment plays in lung cancer metastasis. Specifically, she is studying the heterogeneity cancer associated fibroblasts and the interactions of said cells with tumor cells. As the chair of the Career Development subcommittee, she strives to prepare our postdocs for the next step, being it academia, industry, or any other desired path. For this purposes, adding to the already popular Academic Insight Seminar Series, a new series that focuses on non-academic career paths and a leadership development series will be launched during FY2019.
Karem Court, Ph.D.
Subcommittee – Career Development (Vice-chair)
Dr. Court is a postdoctoral fellow in Department of Gynecology Oncology under the mentorship of Dr. Anil K. Sood. Her PhD research was magnetic fluid hyperthermia for cancer treatment. Her current work centers in exosomes and nanotechnology for ovarian cancer treatment. She has been part of the PDAEC since 2017. She, as vice-chair, will work with the Career Development chair and subcommittee members to organize sessions that help postdocs better appreciate considerations related to launching a faculty or non-faculty academic career for this fiscal year.
Immediate Past PDAEC Chairs
Rajan Chaudhari, Ph.D.
Immediate Past PDAEC Co-chair
Dr. Chaudhari is a postdoctoral fellow in laboratory of Dr. Shuxing Zhang in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. His current research work is to develop novel computational methods to predict polypharmacology profiles of the small molecules. In previous years he has served the postdoc community in various capacities including chair and vice-chair of the Policy and Annual Presidential Career Symposium subcommittees, respectively. This fiscal year he and Dr. Kylee Veazey will continue the work of enhancing the MD Anderson postdoctoral experience by serving as co-chairs of the Executive Committee.
Kylee Veazey, Ph.D.
Immediate Past PDAEC Co-chair
Dr. Veazey is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Margarida Almieda Santos in the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. Her research focuses on dissecting epigenetic mechanisms underlying the onset and maintenance of MLL-fusion Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). Having been a postdoc at Science Park and successfully served the postdoc community as vice-chair of the Annual Postdoctoral Science Symposium, she has a unique perspective that will enable her to engage and serve the local and Science Park postdoc communities.