New Manuscript Published in MDPI

The Microbiology Department proudly shares a manuscript just published in Cancers by the Dorta Lab, focusing on identifying immune and microbial biomarkers associated with PD-1 Blockade Sensitivity in a Preclinical Model for HPV+ Oropharyngeal Cancer.

MDPI website:

The first author, Miss Jennifer Diaz, is a PhD candidate of Dr. Dorta who has focused her work on the topic of host-microbe response to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in preclinical models of oropharyngeal carcinoma. We also congratulate Mr. Michael Rodriguez, an MS candidate in the Dorta lab who will continue working towards a PhD degree.

Congrats Stephanie and team!
Best wishes,      


New Manuscript Published in Molecular Therapy Oncology

Dear all:

I am happy to share a new manuscript published today in Molecular Therapy Oncology ( It's the result of the work of Natalie Melendez a PhD candidate in my lab working on the project led by Dr Gomez-Manzano and myself supported by the U54 MDACC-UPR partnership,  which aims to understand the role of the gut microbiome in modulating the response to oncolytic viruses against solid tumors.

We thank the support of the U54 IMPACT and its leadership both at UPR and MDACC. We also thank additional support by at UPR by RISE R25 GM061838;  RCMI U54MD007600 and PR-INBRE 5P20GM103475; and at MDACC: P30CA01667; F31CA228207; R01CA256006; P50CA127001.

Congrats to the team, to many more!

Dr. Melendez and Dr. Rosario New Publication

Click here to see the publication at MDPI website.

New Publication


Cervical cancer (CC) is women’s fourth most common cancer worldwide. A worrying increase in CC rates in Hispanics suggests that besides Human papillomavirus infections, there may be other cofactors included in the epithelial microenvironment that could play a role in promoting the disease. We hypothesized that the cervical microbiome and the epithelial microenvironment favoring inflammation is conducive to disease progression in a group of Hispanics attending gynecology clinics in Puerto Rico. Few studies have focused on the joint microbiota and cytokine profile response in Hispanics outside the US, especially regarding the development of precancerous lesions. We aimed to investigate the relationship between the cervicovaginal microbiome and inflammation in Hispanic women living in PR while considering cervical dysplasia and HPV genotype risk. Cervical samples collected from 91 participants coming to gynecology clinics in San Juan, underwent 16S rRNA genes (V4 region) profiling, and cytokines were measured using Luminex MAGPIX technology.
Cytokines were grouped as inflammatory (IL-1β, TNFα, IFNγ, IL-6), anti-inflammatory (IL- 4, IL-10, TGFβ1), and traffic-associated (IL-8, MIP1a, MCP1, IP10). They were related to microbes via an inflammation scoring index based on the quartile and tercile distribution of the cytokine’s concentration. We found significant differences in the diversity and composition of the microbiota according to HPV type according to carcinogenic risk, cervical disease, and cytokine abundance. Community State Types (CSTs) represents a profile of microbial communities observed within the vaginal microbiome ecological niche, and Lactobacillus-depleted CST IV had ~ 90% dominance in participants with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions and high-risk HPV. The increasing concentration of pro-inflammatory
cytokines was associated with a decrease in L. crispatus. In contrast, dysbiosis-associated bacteria such as Gardnerella, Prevotella, Atopobium concomitantly increased with pro-inflammatory cytokines. Our study highlights that the cervical microbiota of Hispanics living in Puerto Rico is composed mostly of diverse CST profiles with decreased Lactobacillus and
is associated with a higher pro-inflammatory environment. The joint host-microbe interactionanalyses via cytokine and microbiota profiling have very good translational potential.

PLOS ONE link:

SEIDeA23 Awards

SEIDeA23 Awards

Congratulations to our exceptional students for their outstanding achievements and well-deserved awards in the recent SEIDeA23 meeting! Your dedication, perseverance, and remarkable talents have not only elevated your individual profiles but have also enriched our entire community. Your accomplishments serve as an inspiration to us all, and we look forward to witnessing your continued success in the future. Well done!

First Place: Microbiome in Health & Disease Category

First Place: Community Based Participatory Research Category

Third Place: Other Category

Honorable Mention: Cancer Category

Honorable Mention: Microbiome in Health & Disease Category

Dr. Godoy at ISME-Lat23

Dr. Godoy, PR-INBRE BiRC subcore leader, was the plenary speaker of the 3rd day of the International Society for Microbial Ecology Latin American meeting @ismelat23 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She also moderated the human Microbiome session in the meeting. Emphasis was done in research done in a Puerto Rico and support by PR-INBRE.

ASCCP Best Overall Scientific Abstract Award

Drs Romaguera, Godoy, and Chorna awarded Best Overall Scientific Abstract Award, by the Board of Directors of the Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP), for their work titled “Cervical meta-omic analyses identify metabolism in women with dysplasia“. Dr. Romaguera will accept the award and give an oral presentation at the Marriot Marquis Houston, Texas, May 7, 2023.
This is an important interdisciplinary collaboration between clinicians (Ob-Gyn Dept) and basic scientists (Microbiology and Biochemistry) at the UPR School of Medicine.
Project supported by RCMI 2U54MD007600, PR-INBRE 5P20GM103475-20, The Alliance U54GM133807, and PRSTRT #2020-00112.

UPR-RCM Professors Recognition

On March 31 2023, the Vice Presidency for Research and Innovation of the University of Puerto Rico and recognized the scientific contributions of Doctors Emma Fernandez Repollet and Filipa Godoy-Vitorino in a ceremony in Rio Piedras, entitled “Symposium the Power of Women in the Science", celebrating the trajectory of outstanding women in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) from the 11 campuses of the UPR.

Dr. Filipa Godoy received "Best INBRE Presentation Award"

We congratulate Dr. Filipa Godoy for receiving recognition as “Best INBRE Presentation" in her session by the NISBRE 2022 Organizing Committee. This symposium hosted a competitive field of distinguished young INBRE, COBRE, and CTR investigators selected among all 24 IDeA states to be presenters.  We therefore wish to congratulate all the oral presenters as well as our virtual poster presenters at this symposium for their outstanding presentations. Winners in other sessions and categories are listed below.

NISBRE 2022 Presentation Winners

Session I
Best Presentation:
Don Warner “Structure-Based Drug Design of Novel Therapeutics Against Metastatic Breast Cancer"
Session II
Best COBRE Presentation
Candice M. Brown “Tissue-Nonspecific Alkaline Phosphatase: An Old Enzyme with a New Role in Cerebrovascular Homeostasis"
Best COBRE Flash Talk:
Susan Eliazer “Targeting Wnt4 as a Therapeutic Strategy for Rejuvenating Aged Muscle Stem Cell Function"
Session III
Best INBRE Presentation:
Jason Botten “Host factors that control virus infectivity"
Best INBRE Flash Talk: 
Rizwana Begum “HSP70 and proteasomes coalesce in lipid rafts and exosomes to regulate E-cigarette Vapor condensate induced inflammation"
Best COBRE Presentation:
Heather Bailey Does prior knowledge shape older adults’ perception and memory of everyday events?"
Best COBRE Flash Talk:
Leah Irish The Impact of Insufficient Sleep on Binge Eating and Obesity"
Session IV
Best CTR Presentation:
Andriy Yabluchanskiy “Neurovascular Uncoupling as a Mechanism of Age-Related Cognitive Decline"
Best CTR Flash Talk:
Daniel Wolfson Stroke Triage in a Rural EMS Region"
Session V
Best INBRE Presentation:
Filipa Godoy-Vitorino “The microbiome as key for cervical cancer prevention"
Best INBRE Flash Talk:
Kelsey Hunter Altered Retinoic Acid Metabolism and Signaling in Fanconi Anemia"
Best COBRE Presentation:
Alexa Craig “Leveraging Telemedicine to Reduce Health Care Disparities for Newborns in Rural Community Hospitals"
Best COBRE Flash Talk:
Natalie Thiex Molecular mechanisms of macrophage macropinocytosis"

PR-INBRE postdoc Dr. Ailed Cruz-Collazo won best poster at the PRSTRT Forward Symposium

PR-INBRE postdoc Dr. Ailed Cruz-Collazo won best poster at the PRSTRT Forward Symposium

The INBRE postdoc Dr. Ailed Cruz-Collazo won best poster at the PRSTRT Forward Symposium for her poster titled: “Pre-clinical efficacy of the Rac/Cdc42 inhibitor MBQ-167 in combination therapy with Paclitaxel.” Authors: Ailed M. Cruz-Collazo1, Olga Katsara2, Elizabeth Salvo2, Jean Ruiz1, Robert J Schneider2, and Suranganie Dharmawardhane1,3

Best Poster Presentation SACNAS 2022

Best Poster Presentation SACNAS 2022

Congrats to Travis Santana Lopez, Dr. Natasha De León student! Travis was recipient of the SACNAS 2022 best poster presentation (Title: Insights into the health risk imposed by bacteria associated with Saharan dust events through the understanding of the pathogenic pathways and antibiotic resistance genes.) for life sciences 2022!

Congratulations Dr. Suranganie Dharmawardhane

Congratulations Dr. Suranganie Dharmawardhane

We congratulate Dr. Suranganie Dharmawardhane, PR-INBRE Program Coordinator, for her new DoD grant award on “Translational Development of MBQ-167 as Targeted Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer”.



The Puerto Rico INBRE Program congratulates Dr. Beatriz Zayas who has been awarded a grant from the EnTRUST Program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust Technology Transfer Office.