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Veronica Ramirez-Alcantara, PhD

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Veronica Ramirez-Alcantara received her PhD in Pharmacology in 2006 from the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico) and successfully completed postdoctoral training before becoming a Research Assistant Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Alabama-Mitchell Cancer Institute (USA-MCI). Currently, she functions as the Manager of the Biobank of the University of South Alabama Health System.

In June 2012, she joined the USA-MCI as part of the Drug Discovery Research Center led by Dr. Gary A. Piazza. As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, she developed murine animal models of cancer and evaluated anticancer properties, organ toxicity and pharmacokinetics of novel sulindac derivatives, designed and synthesized in the laboratory. She led a project in the area of chemoprevention of lung cancer, developing an orthotopic mouse model of lung cancer. She evaluated anticancer properties, toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and tissue distribution of a drug candidate for lung cancer. Her in vivo studies showed that oral administration of the candidate has strong antitumor activity and significantly increases the survival of mice by reducing tumor growth. She also extensively characterized the in vitro anticancer activity of the candidate, generating evidence of a mechanism involving phosphodiesterase isozyme 10A (PDE10) inhibition and suppression of β-catenin. Dr. Ramirez-Alcantara presented her findings in a Mini-Symposium of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia (2015), as well as in posters presented during the annual meetings of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), and the AACR.

In February 2015, Dr. Ramirez-Alcantara obtained a non-tenure track promotion to Research Assistant Professor. In July 2016, she was awarded a 2-year Diversity Research Supplement by the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities CURE, an NCI program. She also applied for R21 grants. One project proposed the analysis of PDE10 as a molecular target for colorectal cancer (CRC) chemoprevention, alone or in combination with PDE5 inhibition, in pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions during the progression of inflammation-driven CRC. Another project proposed to analyze a drug development candidate with RAS inhibitory properties in an inflammation-related CRC mouse model.

In October 2019, she assumed the position of Manager of the USA Health Biobank, directed by Dr. Elba A. Turbat-Herrera. Under this position, Dr. Ramirez-Alcantara is coordinating operations to establish an advanced USA Health Biobank facility to ensure a high validity and reliability of cancer biospecimens to the scientific community of the USA.

Dr. Ramirez-Alcantara has been a SOT member since 2008 and a HOT member since 2009. She has been involved with the HOT, serving in several roles including, Editor-in-Chief of the bi-monthly newsletter Toxenlaces (2011–2014), Secretary (2014–v2016), and Counselor (2016–2018) of the HOT Executive Committee.

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