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Gabriel R

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University


Tumor Immunology, cancer biology, Immunology, Biotechnology


I am currently a PhD candidate doing research in the cancer immunotherapies field. I study how the tumor microenvironment inhibits the immune system's ability to fight cancer cells. Through my research, I hope to contribute to the development of new immunotherapies that could help cancer patients. I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and also speak Spanish. I love to play basketball and watch basketball games. My other hobbies include playing table tennis and video games. I also love going to the beach.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Removing the breaks on immune cells to fight cancer cells

Checkpoint blockade therapy is a novel cancer therapy that blocks signals that inhibit immune cells trying to fight cancer cells. This type of treatment has been very effective to treat some types of cancers, but there's still a big need to find alternative approaches. In this project, we will review novel inhibitory molecules that could be targeted to treat cancer patients

Boosting the immune system to fight cancer

Immunotherapies seek to enhance the immune system to identify and kill cancer cells. In this project, we will review different types of immunotherapies like cancer vaccines, adoptive cell transfer, checkpoint blockade, antibodies, or focus on a particular type.

Languages I know


Teaching experience

Leadership Alliance Summer Research – Early Identification Program Mentor at Vanderbilt University. Evaluated the progress of summer students through individual meetings and weekly reports. I provided feedback for their abstracts, posters and oral presentations. I recently helped a high school student with a research proposal for school. Mentored 1 undergraduate student, 2 graduate student and 2 postdoctoral fellows in our research laboratory. I thought them different technical skills and helped them with the experimental design and data analysis needed to complete their projects in cancer immunology.


Work experience

Eli Lilly (2015 - 2016)
Technical Services Lab COOP Studen
Bacardi (2017 - 2017)
Distillery Laboratory
University of Pennsylvania (2017 - 2018)
Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program Scholar


University of Puerto Rico
BS Bachelor of Science
Industrial Biotechnology
Vanderbilt University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Cancer immunology

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