Students Trained 1997 -2019

Mosaico 03192019 Final

“The path towards a long-term recovery of PR’s economy will require a profound social and intellectual transformation. Two of the most important players in this transformation are the University of Puerto Rico and our young, talented students. Despite the financial crisis that Puerto Rico is facing and the Zika virus epidemic, the attitude of our students is unbeaten and science is booming. Most of the student that trained in our laboratory came from very disadvantage background families who live in rural areas in Puerto Rico and are first-generation college students. This picture shows the faces of many stories of success, their lives were transformed through a rigorous research training and the generous contribution of the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. ” JALD



Neuroscience has historically been one of the strongest research programs in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the legacy of the Institute of Neurobiology in Old San Juan, established in 1967 by Professor José del Castillo (1921-2002), has been fundamental to its development in Puerto Rico. All of the research training that we have provided has been inspired through legacy of an outstanding scientist and mentor, Dr. José del Castillo. Under his guidance, the Institute of Neurobiology in San Juan, PR, became a major contributor to the development of research in the neurosciences, as well as a key resource for the training and mentoring of graduate students. Unquestionably, Dr. del Castillo’s legacy has defined research career pathways for many neuroscientists in Puerto Rico including myself, who trained with Jose del Castillo from 1985-1989 and his influence gave origin to this laboratory established since 1997 at the Department of Biology at UPR Rio Piedras. Our laboratory has provided multidisciplinary research experiences to enthusiastic and talented undergraduate students across UPR campuses and private institution in PR. We have provided rigorous training experiences for, undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows. The research environment that we have provided to many students during the last 20 years has develop their critical thinking, computer and math literacy, logic skills and language. Our mentoring methods incudes research training which includes the following key elements: a) multidisciplinary research environment, b) strong collaborative environment via mentoring networks, c) foster critical thinking and independence, d) prepare students for project ownership, d) participation in summer internships in the mainland, d) encourage students to publish, e) high work ethics is essential, e) long–research partnership with mainland laboratories, f) high-end instrumentation and techniques available for students, g) distributed responsibilities in the laboratory and shared credit, h) innovation and intellectual property training, i) passion for science, j) hard work, persistence and creativity and k) intellectual humbleness. Our training provides an integrated view of science by strengthening the conceptual depth in special areas of interest such as ion channel biophysics, protein structure, molecular and cellular biology.

The outcomes of our training are tangible. We have trained approximately two hundred (232) students in our laboratory and strongly motivated them to pursue Biomedical related research careers. Since 2001, our laboratory graduated fourteen (14) Ph.D.s, two (2) masters and thirteen (13) undergraduate’s students from our laboratory have already obtained Ph.D. degrees. In addition, another thirty six (36) undergraduate students from our laboratory are now attending graduate schools, in Ph.D. and nine (9) combined M.D. /Ph.D. programs. Furthermore, another 34 of our undergraduate students completed M.D.s and 35 are presently attending medical school. Most of these students belong to low-income families who live in rural areas all around Puerto Rico, thus, we feel that this laboratory has made possible the career development of many talented, first-generation college students. The training that we provided has positive effects not only on the number of students who pursue graduate studies, but also on the fraction of these who are successful in completing their degrees in a manner that is both timely and conducive to continuing into postdoctoral experiences. In addition, since the purpose of our training is to produce graduate students who are more competitive, they are expected to have an impact on careers subsequent to completion of doctorates. In this respect, many of the Ph.D.’s developed in our laboratory are currently making important research contributions in Physiological and Neurobiological related areas, and science education. Our long term-goal is that within the next 5 years we have contributed to the development of about 100 Ph.D. scientists. The accomplishment of this goal will serve to disseminate the transforming vision of an outstanding scientist and mentor, Dr. Jose del Castillo.

Student Development 1997 - 2019


Detailed List of Ph.D. developed

Collazo Santiago, JoannePh.D.University of Kentucky
Lozada Santiago, EnerlynPh.D.University of Kentucky
Morales Pérez, ClaudioPh.D.Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Merced Alvarez, Gadiel E.Ph.D.Ph.D Candidate, U. of Puerto Rico, MD?
Rosa Hernandez, LisettePh.D.Ph.D. Candidate, U of Florida, School Teacher?
Meléndez, MarielPh.D.Ph.D Candidate
Capllonch Maldonado, RuthPh.D.Speech Therapist, Department of Education, Puerto Rico
Gómez, JoséPh.D.Ph.D. U of Minnesota, Medicine Student University of Tennessee
Tiburcio, JanicePh.D.Ph.D applicant
Velásquez Rivera, EricPh.D.Ph.D UC Irvine
Rivera Rentas, Alberto L.Ph.D.Extramural Reasearch Training Officer National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Oyola Cintrón, JessicaPh.D.Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus
Capó Vélez, CoralPh.D.Post Doc, Molecular Sciences Research Center, University of Puerto Rico
Ríos Morales, Ramon Y.Ph.D.PostDoc, Vanderbilt University
Nogueras Ortiz, CarlosPh.D.National Institute of Aging, Cellular & Molecular Neurosciences Section
Vazquez Rosa, EdwinPh.D.Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine
Lopez Hernández, Gretchen Y.Ph.D.Assistant Professor Kansas City University
Santiago, JohnPh.D.Principal Scientist, Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Marty Santos, Leilani Ph.D.Postdoctoral Fellow University of Michigan Medical School
Asmar Rovira, GuillermoPh.D. Staff Scientist Monsanto
Lizardi Ortiz, José E.Ph.D. Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University Medical Center
Cruz Martin, AlbertoPh.D. Assistant Professor, Boston University
Mercado Muñiz, Jose L.Ph.D. Staff Scientist at Kineta, Inc. Seattle, WA
Guzman Colon, GisilaPh.D. Director Global Operations at AMGEN Thousand Oaks, CA
Del Valle Piñero, Yesenia A.Ph.D. FDA
Navedo Morales, Manuel FPh.D. Associate Professor UC Davis, Pharmacology
Nieves Cintron, MadelinePh.D. Assistant Project Scientist III, UC Davis
Sanchez Padilla, JavierPh.D. Research Associate, Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill.
Gonzalez Perez, CaledPh.D. Postdoct, Baylor College of Medicine. Interdepartmental Program of Cell and Molecular Biology
Marti Arbona, RicardoPh.D. Team Leader at Los Alamos Lab
Torres, Alexis J.Ph.D. Postdoctoral associate, at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics
Caballero Rivera, DanielPh.D. Senior Scientist / Senior Manager at Amgen
Casiano, AnettePh.D. Instructor, Montgomery College, Maryland
Osorio, KarenPh.D. Senior Scientist R&D, Procter and Gamble in Ohio
Baez Pagan, Carlos A.Ph.D. Technology Manager, Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust
Otero Cruz, José D.Ph.D. NIEF Coordinator at Molecular Sciences and Research Center, University of Puerto Rico
Biaggi Labiosa, NilzaPh.D. Study Management Associate II at Abbvie
Delgado Velez, ManuelPh.D. Project Manager, Molecular Sciences Research Center, University of Puerto Rico
Rosa Bauza, YazminPh.D. Science Teacher Fremont Unified School District
De La Torre Ubieta, LuisPh.D. Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA
Giusti Rodriguez, PaolaPh.D. Postdoctoral Fellow at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Arvelo Lugo, WencesMDAtlanta
Lopez Quintero, MariaMDInternal Medicine
Baez Bonilla, RafaelMDNephrologist at The Kidney Group of South Florida
Mercado Sepulveda, RaquelMDOB/GYN
Hernandez Rivera, HelderMDCardiac Electrophysiology
Serrano Viruet, DimarisMDMexico
De Jesús, MaríaMDProfessor at Instituto Gerontológico de Puerto Rico
Valentín, JuanMD
Rodríguez Roman, Laura M.MDPsychiatry Residency
Torres, HeidiMDMD, Puerto Rico
Vazquez Pérez, YarelizMDInterventional Radiology, Private Practice
Padilla, JeanMDMD, University of Pennsylvania
Padilla, LauraMDMD, Veteran's Health System, Internal Medicine
Vélez, KarlaMDU of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus
Luciano, MariecelyMDMD, Medical Science Campus
Reyes, AlexMDResident, Florida Hospital East Orlando
Perez, NataliMDMD, San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
Soto Morales, JaniceMDObstetrics and Gynecology Resident, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Marrero, Gabriel E.MDMD, U of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Acevedo Molina, LaurenMDU of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus
Emmanuelli, AdrianaMDPhysician, Miami Florida
Martínez, JonathanMDPediatrics
Morales Vargas, BryanMDPathology Residency, Emory
Rivera Betancourt, Nayib J.MDUniversidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine
Martínez, ArnaldoMDMD, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Marte Oquendo, FranciscoMDMedical Intern at Massachusetts General Hospital
Shehadeh, MohammadMDInternal Medicine
Alvarez Díaz, GersonMDRadiologist
Reyes Torres, JoséMDGastroenterologist
Colon Rodriguez, Modesto J.MDAssistant Professor (Cardiothoracic Surgery) at Banner - University Medical Center
Zeno Guzman, DavidMD
Ortiz Diaz, EnriqueMDInternal Medicine
Ricardo, AriamsiMD
Vasquez, RaulMDFamily Medicine
Arroyo Alonso, ChristianMDPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellow at Houston Methodist Hospital
Tardy Rivera, FrancesMDRadiologist
Galloza Otero, Juan C.MDPhysical Medicine
Valle Aviles, FelixMDFamily Physician
Castillo, JoanneMDMD
Caraballo, IvánMDSchool of Medicine
Martínez Ortiz, YaizaMDGastroenterologist
Reyes, Edgardo MDCardiology Fellow, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Cuello Pichardo, KilsyMDNephrologist at Georgia Regents University
Candelario Cosme, MadelineMDEndocrinologist / Assistant Professor at University of South Florida
Díaz, GilMDInternal Medicine
Vicenty, Jessica D.MDMD
Olazagasti, JeannetteMDDermatholgy Resident, UT Southwestern
Ríos, RaymondMDMD
Carrasquillo, OnelysMDOphthalmology Resident at BronxCare Health System
Dorna, LuisamariMDSurgery Resident at Centro Médico Puerto Rico
Plaud Gonzalez, AudaMDPediatrician
Pérez Román, Roberto J.MDNeurosurgery Residency, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine
Gonzalez Viera, GloriselMDPsychiatrist Fellow
Santiago, Luis M.MDOB/GYN, Richmond University Medical Center
Vives, CarlosMDMD, U of Puerto Rico
María Ríos, Jose C.MDEmergency Medicine Resident Physician at Hospital UPR
Luna Ramirez, NuriaMDOB/GYN Resident at Maimonides Medical Center, New York
Yan Huang, JuneMDResident Physician
Erica G. Otero CárdenasMDCardiologist Resident
Rivera, Elvia I.MDPediatrician
Fernández de Thomas, Ricardo J.MDNeurological Surgery Resident at University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine
Cuascut, Fernando X.MDNeurologist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Fernández Gerena, José LuisMDGeneral Surgery at Surgery South, Atlanta GA


Rodríguez, IleanaPharm.D.U of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus
Colón Berrios, VilmariePharm.D.Pharm.D.
Vergara Mojica, ArayoánPharm.D.Pharmacy Intern, CVS Pharmacy
Del Hoyo Rivera, NataliePharm.D.PharmD UPR Medical Science Campus
Delgado Martínez, Frances Y.Pharm.D.Pharmacist, PharmPix


Frontera Hernandez, Eva NDMDPrivate Practice, Guaynabo Puerto Rico
Rodriguez Bonilla, Carla DDMDOdonthology
Gil Falero, Olga A.DMDOdonthology, Private Practice Houston, Texas
Ortiz, CristinaDMDOral and Maxillofacial Surgery Resident
Ortiz, PatriciaDMDOrthodontist


Resto Colón, MónicaMSMolina Health Care
Madera, BismarkMSInter American University of Puerto Rico
Pérez, StephanyMSEpidemiology
Santana Negrón, OlgaMSSpeech Therapy, New York
Colón, Alfredo D.MSMD Student, Ponce School of Medicine
Blundell, AndrewMSMD Student, San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
Heredia Perez, Cristine MMSEducation
Torres Melendez, JohannaMSPublic Heath
Asseo, AloyshaMSLab Technician
Calo Perez, WilliamMSU of Puerto Rico
Lebrón Figueroa, Dora A.MSPublic Heath
Espinoza Contreras, DaisyMSQuality Assurance Manager, PCS, Reynosa, Mexico
Torruellas Arzuaga, Karla A.MSTechnical Manager, Tubrica, LLC
Kuchibotla, MadhaviMSPh.D. Candidate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus


Lugo Bendezú, AdriánBSUndergraduate Student, U of Puerto Rico
Sierra Torres, Hector R.BSPfizer
Cabrera, NicolasBSBiotech
Rivera Dueño, María TeresaBSSpeech Therapy
Donate Narvaez, Gisela N.BS
Iguina Gonzalez, EnerlynBS
Frontanes Heredia, Mary AnnBSEducation
Cruz Nieves, Omar A.BSAssociate Scientis, Amgen
Céspedes, KattyBSProject Coordinator, University of Puerto Rico
Aponte, Juan C.BSPhD
López Acevedo, NadiuskaBS
Pastrana Chiclana, RaquelBSProfessor ICPR College
Salamán, José C.BSReal State
Dávila, IrmaydínBSPh.D applicant
Pérez, ArianeBSOffice Administrator at Business Intelligence of PR
González, AlexBSUndergraduate Student
Delgado, SaraBSMS Candidate, Organic Chemistry University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Emmanuelli, LillianaBSChiropractic, CORE Wellness Center
Grajales, Jose GabrielBSMD/PhD Candidate Washington University
Carrasquillo, BillyBSUndergraduate Student
Santiago, EduardoBSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Vélez, CarolBSUniversiy of Puerto Rico
Guerrero, BeatrizBSUniversity of Puerto Rico (musica)
Conklin, StevenBSPhD Student, Duke University
Luciano, CarlosBSPsychology
Schaening, CassandraBSPhD Student, MIT
Torres, JavierBSPolitical Manager at NextGen America
Aponte, AlexandraBSMD Candidate, Medical Sciences Campus
De Jesús, AdrianaBSUndergraduate Student
Hernández, Arnaldo J.BSUndergraduate Student
Avilés Cuadrado, ValerieBSU. of Puerto Rico
Colón Bernal, IsabelBSPh.D. candidate, University of Michigan
Martinez, Abner Y.BSMD Student, Universidad Central del Caribe
Meléndez, Sofía BSScience and Math Tutor
Paris Castro, Joel O.BSFlight Attendant, Frontier Airlines
Serrano Rodríguez, GénesisBSPhD Student , University at Buffalo
Andino Ortega, Omar A.BSMD Student, University of Medicine and Health Science in St. Kitts
Burgos Tirado, NeikelynBSPh.D. Student, University of Michigan (Pharmacology)
Cruz Centeno, NelimarBSMD Student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Cruz Martinez, LilibethBSMD Student, Ponce School of Medicine
Garcia, Dora ElisaBSU. of Puerto Rico
Fernández, EmilyBSPhD Student, UPenn
Holder Viera, MileyshmiBSEntrepreneur, Scientist Consultant
León Rivera, RosirisBSMD/PhD Candidate, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Oliveras, Hector A.BSMD Student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Ortiz Rodríguez, Angel L.BSMD Student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Torres, PolarisBSMPH Student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Miranda Román, Miguel A.BSPh.D. Student, Gerstner Sloan Kettering
Rosado Millan, Irvin D.BSDTP Student, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus (Physical Therapy)
Vazquez, Angelis M.BSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Acevedo, JesusBSMD/PhD Candidate, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis
De Jesus Astacio, Luis BSPh.D. Student, Urbana Champaign, University of Illinois (Physics)
Gorbea Colón, José J.BSU of Puerto Rico
Mercado del Valle, Juan C.BSPh.D. Student, Ohio State University
Quiroz Figueroa, KatherineBSPh.D. Student, University of Pennsylvania (Upenn)
Raffols De Jesus, PaolaBSMD Student, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, School of Medicine
Velazquez Rodriguez, SebastianBSUndergraduate Student, U of Puerto Rico
López Cruz, Luis M.BSMD Student
Grajales Reyes, GaryBSMD/Ph.D Candidate Washington University
García Beltrán, WilfredoBSMD/Ph.D Candidate Harvard/MIT
Quintana, RuthBSVet Student University of Minnesota
González, OmayraBSPh.D. Candidate, Rutgers
Joaquín, FreisaBSPh.D. Candidate University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Padilla Morales, Luis F.BSAssociate Scientist at Amgen, Ph.D Candidate, University of Puerto Rico
De La Cruz Rivera, PamelaBSMD/PhD Candidate, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Ramos Busot, FelixBSPh.D. Candidate Rochester University
Montalvo, Krisia N.BSOncology Registered Nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Aponte Santiago, Nicole AnnBSPh.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Avilés Pagán, EmirBSPh.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Lanauze, Claudia B.BSPh.D. Student University of Pennsylvania
Pullen Colón, MelanieBSPh.D. Candidate, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
García González, AurianBSMD/PhD Student University of Massachusetts Medical School
Diaz De Leon, RosedelmaBSPh.D. Candidate, U of Puerto Rico
Hyzinski García, María C.BSScientist at Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation
Alicea Vázquez, VivianetteBSMS Student
Cotto Ríos, SonnielizBSPh.D. Candidate
Valdés Fernández, BiancaBSPh.D. Candidate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Cruz López, DidianaBSPh.D. Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Maldonado Hernández, RafaelBSPh.D. Candidate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Angeles Pérez, Lidiette M.BSPh.D. Student, UT Southwestern
Rodríguez Tirado, Carla S.BSPh.D. Student, UT Southwestern
Durán Martínez, Mónica I.BSNIH
Albino Rivera, EdgardoBSPhiladelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) School of Pharmacy, Georgia
Iglesias Maldonado, Juan C.BS
Castro Ortega, GustavoBSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
González Rivera, AdrielBSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Ramírez Márquez, EstefaníaBSUniversity of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
González Martínez, OrlandoBSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Hernández Camacho, PaolaBSUniversity of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Rodríguez Díaz, Jean C.BSPh.D. Student, University of Michigan
Reilly Andújar, FrancisBSPh.D. Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Aponte Santiago, Linette A.BSDVM Student, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine & Teaching Hospital
Báez Cruz, Faviolla A.BSPh.D. Student, University of Pennsylvania (UPENN)
Bretón Arias, José M.BSUniversity of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Espinal Martínez, Alan O.BSPh.D. Student, Boston University Graduate Medical Sciences (Neurobiology)
Ramírez Márquez, JeromeBSMD Student, U. of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus
Carmona Márquez, JeromeBSUS Army
Maysonet Navarro, Claude A.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Silva Madera, Claudia E.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Pastrana Gonzalez, Adriana A.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Muñiz Sarriera, Adrian B.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Gonzalez Font, Yoymar M.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Gonzalez Montalvo, Isabelle M.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Roa Vidal, NataliaBSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Rivera Zayas, OmarBSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus
Rivera Moran, DanielBSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Rivera Moran, Joelyn D.BSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Villalobos Santos, Juan C.BSPh.D. Candidate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Rodríguez Cordero, Josué A.BSPh.D. Candidate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Rodríguez Santiago, Adbiel H.BSMS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Del Toro Dominguez, José JulianBSMS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
La Torre, Manuel JBSBS Student, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus
Díaz Pérez, LuzedBSProduct Development, Adjmi Apparel Group (Graduated Parson School of Design)


García, JomarieBS/JDLawyer, Attorney at Law
Ramirez Santiago, LorreineBS/Lic.Medical Technologist
Rodriguez, DesireeBS/MPHResident Physician, Childrens Hospital of Georgia
Rosario, Noelis M.DPMPodiatrist
Michelen, StephanieJDInteramerican University
Jones Molina, JohnMAPh.D. Candidate, Columbia University
Capo Ramos, David E.MD, MPHClinical Epidemiologist at Abarca Health LLC
Mercado Matos, JoséMD/Ph.D.Oncology Residency, NIH
Ávila, JacquelineMPHMaster in Public Health ASSMCA
Martinez Perez, Angelica M.MPHPh.D. candidate (Disability studies), University of Illinois at Chicago