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Alum newsletter May 2021-132067-shreya-kanodia-en1 (002)

New CCSG administrator joins institution on March 8

Shreya Kanodia, Ph.D., joined the institution on March 8 as associate vice president for programs, planning and infrastructure and will serve as the administrator of our Cancer Center Support Grant.

A graduate of our MD Anderson UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Kanodia has years of experience in research administration and in-depth knowledge of working with NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Comprehensive experience

Kanodia comes to MD Anderson from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, where she served as the Deputy Director of Administration at the cancer center and the Executive Director for Cancer Research. She oversaw the administration and operations for research and academics and led the cancer center’s NCI-designation’s renewal.

Prior to UCSD, she served in numerous research and administrative roles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she held the role of Executive Director in Oncology and the Associate Director for Administration in the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. She also held academic appointments as an assistant professor in the CSMC department of Biomedical Sciences, where she also served as Director of Grants Management.

Additionally, Kanodia served as interim Chief Administrative Officer/Associate Director for Administration and played a key role in NCI-designation renewal for the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.

A background in bench science

Prior to taking research administration roles, Kanodia was trained as a tumor immunologist at our graduate school, earning her Ph.D. through our Immunology/Cancer Biology programs. Her research focused on t cell avidity to self-antigens to understand how vaccine dosage affects the T cell repertoire and elucidate the reasons for limited efficacy of tumor vaccines. She also worked with biotechnology companies, establishing the U.S. operation of Advanced Microdevices Pvt. Ltd. and co-founding Advanced Bioscience Technologies.

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Graduate School names 2021 Kopchick Fellows

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is proud to announce the 2021 recipients of the Dr. John J. and Charlene Kopchick Fellowships:

2021 Dr. John J. Kopchick Fellows

Brian Anderson
Advisor: Kristy K. Brock, PhD

Yasaman Barekatain
Advisor: Raghu Kalluri, MD, PhD

Nathaniel Berg
Advisor: Holger K. Eltzschig, MD, PhD

Medina Colic
Advisor: Traver Hart, PhD

Carolina Garcia Garcia
Advisor: Cullen M. Taniguchi, MD, PhD

Jovanka Gencel-Augusto
Advisor: Guillermina Lozano, PhD

Archit Ghosh
Advisor: Kunal Rai, PhD

Jennifer Hurtig
Advisor: Ambro van Hoof, PhD

Walaa Kattan
Advisor: John Hancock, BChir, PhD, ScD

Yiyun Lin
Advisor: Nicholas E. Navin, PhD

Elia Lopez
Advisor: Edgar T. Walters, PhD

Brigid McDonald
Advisor: Clifton D. Fuller, MD, PhD

Nabina Paudyal
Advisor: Vasanthi Jayaraman, PhD

Deborah Silverman
Advisors: Patrick Hwu, MD, and Moran Amit, PhD


2021 Charlene Kopchick Fellow

Soleil Hernandez
Advisor: Laurence E. Court, PhD 

These fellowships are funded through a generous $10.5 million endowment established by alumnus John J. Kopchick, Ph.D., and his wife, Charlene. 

The Dr. John J. Kopchick Fellowships are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional character, extracurricular leadership, research excellence and scholarly merit. Each fellowship provides $7,500 directly to the student and an additional $7,500 to support their research and training. These fellowships may be renewed for a total award period of up to two years.

The Charlene Kopchick Fellowship is awarded to a GSBS student who demonstrates unique characteristics beyond merit and financial need. Such characteristics may include but are not be limited to first-generation college graduates entering graduate research; students who exhibit exemplary personal character; uniqueness of background and culture; strong work ethic; perceived leadership qualities and an enthusiastic scientific curiosity. These fellowships provide $8,250 of direct aid to the student and an additional $8,250 to support the student’s research and training. This is a one-time award to the student and is not renewable.

 

Virtual networking program expands career opportunities for biomedical talent at UT health institutions

To assist these talented scientists, the institutions collaborated with one another and the UT System Office of Talent and Innovation to create the UT System Career Exploration Network (CEN), a multi-week virtual program that pairs students and postdocs seeking career guidance with experienced professionals willing to share their knowledge about various employment options.

“Given the pandemic and the economic downturn, today’s graduates are facing a more difficult job market, yet their skills are needed now more than ever,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken.  “The UT System can leverage its size and reach to bring together multiple institutions to create opportunities that support UT graduates and the evolving workplace.”

The CEN pilot program debuted in July 2020 with 63 PhD students and postdocs (Seekers) and 71 professionals (Guides), who provide advice and guidance during short virtual networking meetings.  From academic and industry research, to management consulting and science communication, the Guides represent a wide range of career options for PhD-trained biomedical talent. All the Guides hold PhDs and at least 96% of them are UT alumni or UT employees.

Learning how to network virtually was an important benefit of the program, noted Raquel Ybanez Salinas, PhD, assistant director of career development at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

“We hope this experience not only helps Seekers learn about their career options, but also empowers them to continue building their personal professional network,” she said.

Using virtual meeting technology, CEN facilitated 365 one-on-one introductory meetings between Seekers and Guides from across multiple UT institutions. The majority – 80% – involved Seekers and Guides from different UT institutions.

“This is a unique opportunity for students and alumni from different institutions to meet each other, share experiences and knowledge, and contribute to the future career success of our biomedical graduates,” said Dan Jupiter, assistant dean for recruitment at UT Medical Branch.

“It was extremely helpful to meet with professionals who graduated from different institutions since it gave us a more diverse group of guides from different backgrounds and with different career paths,” agreed Melodi Bowman, a neuroscience PhD candidate at UT Health San Antonio. “Without this, we may not have been exposed to people in different careers.”

After participating in the program, 89% of Seekers indicated they felt more confident in their ability to effectively explore career options, compared to 61% before the program. And 91% said they have a more positive outlook, compared to only 62% before the program. Perhaps most importantly, the percentage of Seekers who claimed to be very knowledgeable about their career path options doubled during the program.

“Candid chats with Guides in a wide variety of careers gave me a better understanding of which careers are not for me, while opening my eyes to other areas that I knew little of before,” said Amrita Gokhale, a cell and molecular biology PhD candidate at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Nilsa Rivera Del Valle, a toxicologist at Procter & Gamble and an alum of UT MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, found professional benefits to serving as a Guide. “Participating in the UT System Career Exploration Network allows me to identify potential candidates for my company,” she said. “Engaging with new PhD students and postdocs help us communicate the company’s values, what we do and the opportunities we have within different science fields.”

“I would absolutely recommend the program to other professionals,” said Lauren Tyra, an investment analyst at Dallas-based venture capital firm GP&G Ventures and UT Southwestern Medical Center alum who also served as a Guide. “It is a good way to meet people and keep your networking skills sharp, but it is also an excellent way to give back to your graduate institution in a way that really matters to trainees.”

Given the success of the pilot, CEN program staff are developing plans for the next series of events and to address the unique and changing needs of UT graduates and potential employers.

For more information, please contact the UT System Office of Talent and Innovation.