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Enriquez receives NIH F99/K00 fellowship

December 05, 2023 By: Tracey Barnett/ MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School

Enriquez receives NIH F99/K00 fellowship

MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School PhD candidate José S. Enriquez Ortiz was awarded an Individual Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his project, “Real Time Metabolic Imaging to Interrogate Early Detection and Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer.” Enriquez is affiliated with the Biochemistry and Cell Biology program and his advisor is Pratip Bhattacharya, PhD.

“It’s really a great honor to be recognized by this award,” said Enriquez. “I’m grateful that both my previous and current research led to such a wonderful opportunity for me to transition into a more mature scientist. This award will facilitate my next step in an academic career, and it will also motivate me to continue to excel in science.” 

Enriquez’s project focuses on the early detection of pancreatic cancer using a technique called hyperpolarized MRI for metabolic imaging. With this technique, changes in metabolism can be detected in early stages, which can lead to an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. At the same time, Enriquez wants to determine if the technique is specific to pancreatic cancer and no other cofounders such as pancreatitis.

“This award will also fund the beginning of my post-doctoral position,” said Enriquez. “Where I proposed the use of another imaging technique for pH imaging and my overall goal is to combine both cutting-edge techniques to achieve early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.”

In the summer of 2022, Enriquez was accepted into the prestigious Yale Ciencia Academy, a program geared towards equipping biomedical and health sciences doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds with the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to find great postdoctoral positions. He traveled to Yale University for a week filled with exercises, discussions, and networking opportunities.

“This [F99/K00] award aligns perfectly with my career plans,” said Enriquez. “With this award I can pursue that position in top-tier institutions which will then facilitate my transition into my faculty position. Also, this award will allow me to continue to implement my passion for chemistry in cancer detection and treatment using molecular and biomedical imaging. I hope that with this award I can inspire other underrepresented students to apply for additional funding opportunities like this. I want to pass down all the help and support that I received from my mentors and colleagues to my peers and future mentees.”

Enriquez learned about this funding opportunity from the school’s Career Development Office.

“After applying and getting nominated, Dr. Raquel Salinas [the school direct of career development] was essential in helping me get started by connecting me to previous applicants and awardees,” said Enriquez. “She also gave me critical advice while I was writing my application. I really appreciate her for all her help!”

If you want to learn more about funding opportunities, please visit the Office of Career Development’s website:

In addition to the school’s career development team, Enriquez had others he wanted to acknowledge.

“At the same time, I want to thank my grant admin team, especially Angela Morgan, in the department of Cancer Systems Imaging for helping me get the final application ready and helping me submit everything on time. I would also like to thank the Biochemistry and Cell Biology program, my PI Pratip Bhattacharya, PhD, and the Cancer Systems Imaging department for their support. Also, I want to thank my friends and family for always being there and supporting everything I do.”


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