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LUZ M. CUMBA-GARCIA, Ph.D.

Immunologist | Policy Advisor | Science Communicator
2022 AAAS/TWAS Science Diplomacy Fellow
2020 UCS Science Defender
2020 iBiology Young Scientist Series Alumni
2020 NSPN SciPol Scholars Alumni
2019 ASBMB Advocacy Training Program (ATP) Alumni
2018- 2019 Yale-Mayo Clinic CERSI Alumni
2017-2019 Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) Alumni
2018 AAAS Science Diplomacy and Leadership Alumni 
2017 Yale Ciencia Academy Alumni
Luz

Bio

Dr. Luz M. Cumba García is an immunologist by training with 13 years of experience working at the intersection of immunology, public policy, and diplomacy. Luz is currently a policy advisor at the government relations firm Lewis-Burke, LLC, where she leverages her biomedical research background to bolster issue expertise of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Prior to joining Lewis-Burke full time, Luz served as a National Science Policy Network (NSPN) SciPol Scholars-in-Residence (SPSR) Fellow in the firm. In addition, during her Ph.D. Luz received didactic training in science policy and science diplomacy. Her experiences and extensive training in these areas have been fundamental for Luz in understanding the dynamic role of science and technology in decision-making and evidence-based public policies.

Luz is passionate about advocacy, science communication, and outreach. She is an experienced global public speaker in topics ranging from science communication, science policy, science diplomacy, diversity and inclusion, and professional development. Her efforts to inform the general public, especially Spanish speakers, about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic led to her being awarded the “Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 2020 Science Defender Award”. Luz is an advocate for increasing diversity in science, alerting the public and scientific community about federal and local policies that are relevant to science and Puerto Rico as a member of the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN), and promoting science diplomacy in Latin America and the Caribbean as a founding member of the Science Diplomacy Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (DiploCientifica).​

Luz is a proud Puerto Rican! She recently earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester, MN. Her thesis dissertation focused on analyzing small particles in the blood called “extracellular vesicles” shed from glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumors as “liquid biopsies” to predict tumor growth and monitor treatment outcome. This work resulted in a patent application. Luz graduated in 2012 from the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, PR with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, where she performed studies on HIV epidemiology. She has taught and conducted research in different countries including China, Brazil, Germany with the Nobel Laureate Harald zur Hausen, and Spain at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez Neyra. In 2013, Luz obtained her Master’s Degree from this institution. Overall, her research efforts have resulted in multiple awards and presentations at national and international scientific conferences. Luz enjoys traveling (visited five out of seven continents!), shopping, writing on her blog and website, and exercising.

Luz

Bio

Dr. Luz M. Cumba García is an immunologist by training with 13 years of experience working at the intersection of immunology, public policy, and diplomacy. Luz is currently a policy advisor at the government relations firm Lewis-Burke, LLC, where she leverages her biomedical research background to bolster issue expertise of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Prior to joining Lewis-Burke full time, Luz served as a National Science Policy Network (NSPN) SciPol Scholars-in-Residence (SPSR) Fellow in the firm. In addition, during her Ph.D. Luz received didactic training in science policy and science diplomacy. Her experiences and extensive training in these areas have been fundamental for Luz in understanding the dynamic role of science and technology in decision-making and evidence-based public policies.

​Luz is passionate about advocacy, science communication, and outreach. She is an experienced global public speaker in topics ranging from science communication, science policy, science diplomacy, diversity and inclusion, and professional development. Her efforts to inform the general public, especially Spanish speakers, about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic led to her being awarded the “Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 2020 Science Defender Award”. Luz is an advocate for increasing diversity in science, alerting the public and scientific community about federal and local policies that are relevant to science and Puerto Rico as a member of the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN), and promoting science diplomacy in Latin America and the Caribbean as a founding member of the Science Diplomacy Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (DiploCientifica).

Luz is a proud Puerto Rican! She recently earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester, MN. Her thesis dissertation focused on analyzing small particles in the blood called “extracellular vesicles” shed from glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumors as “liquid biopsies” to predict tumor growth and monitor treatment outcome. This work resulted in a patent application. Luz graduated in 2012 from the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, PR with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, where she performed studies on HIV epidemiology. She has taught and conducted research in different countries including China, Brazil, Germany with the Nobel Laureate Harald zur Hausen, and Spain at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez Neyra. In 2013, Luz obtained her Master’s Degree from this institution. Overall, her research efforts have resulted in multiple awards and presentations at national and international scientific conferences. Luz enjoys traveling (visited five out of seven continents!), shopping, writing on her blog and website, and exercising.

My Ph.D. Dissertation

My Ph.D. dissertation aimed to characterize extracellular vesicles, or EVs, which are tiny particles shed from brain tumors that can be found in the blood. Tumor EVs are messengers that send signals throughout the whole body to promote tumor growth and shut down anti-tumor immune responses. By analyzing the vesicles extracted from blood, it may be possible to identify if there is a tumor, what type of tumor it is, if it’s progressing, if the treatment is working, and how is the tumor suppressing the immune system. The information we get from analyzing the EVs can be used to provide early treatment to patients that need it and prevent unnecessary treatment to those who don’t.

Get to Know Luz's Passions: SciPol, SciDip, and SciComm (Spanish)

Get to Know Luz's Career Trajectory (Spanish)

Luz at "In a Perfect Policy" Podcast by CaSP UW-Madison

COVID-19 Articles, Interviews (Spanish), and Recognitions



“#CuidateCuidamePR​: Conceptos básicos sobre las vacunas de COVID-19”
Panel about basic concepts regarding COVID-19 vaccines. This conversation is part of "Cuídate, Cuídame", an educational campaign about COVID-19 created by Mercy Corps, Puerto Rico Public Health Trust, and Ciencia Puerto Rico. Sign interpreters included
Feb 2021

“Más allá de la biología de las vacunas contra COVID-19”
Interview about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination campaigns in Puerto Rico with "Vistazo a la Ciencia"
Feb 2021



“Luz Cumba (@scitopia) te invita a vacunarte”
Video clip in collaboration with the science blog “Nibö” to motivate the community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Jan 2021

“¿Cuáles son los ingredientes de las vacunas de COVID-19?”
Video clip explaining the ingredients of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This clip is extracted from the panel “La vacuna para todos... en arroz y habichuelas”, organized by PRSPAN members
Jan 2021


“La vacuna para todos... en arroz y habichuelas”
Panel organized by PRSPAN members about the COVID-19 vaccines
Dec 2020




“COVID-19: De la respuesta inmunológica a la ruta de la vacunación”
Interview about COVID-19 with the Colombian educational organization "Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA)"
Sep 2020

“Cómo el COVID-19 ha influenciado nuestra manera de relacionarnos”
Interview about COVID-19 and my career trajectory with “Erika Michael Talks” blog
Jul 2020

“Aprendamos más sobre el COVID-19”
Webinar about COVID-19 for science major students from the “Medicine, Education & Development for Low-Income Families Everywhere (MEDLIFE)” Movement
Jun 2020


"Tratamientos actuales contra infecciones severas por COVID-19"
"Interferones y tormenta de citoquinas: Respuesta inmunológica a la COVID-19"
Video series about COVID-19 in collaboration with the science blog “Nibö”
May 2020

“Hablemos del COVID-19 con los niños”
Webinar about COVID-19 for third graders from the XXI Century School Abelardo Díaz Morales in Caguas, PR
May 2020

“Mitos y realidades sobre el COVID-19”
Interview with “Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES)” organization about COVID-19
Apr 2020

Luz at "El Desahogo del Mediodia" Radio Show
Interview about COVID-19. Transmitted through ACTIVA 1520 am and WQBS 870 am
Mar 2020

“Se Rascó Así: ¡El Happy Hour! Episodio #74”
Interview about COVID-19
Mar 2020


Upcoming Meetings

SACNAS Conference
October 27-29, 2022
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Past Meetings

Tigers for Inclusion, Diversity, and Ethics (TIDE) Conference
March 7-10, 2022
Clemson, South Carolina

AAAS Annual Meeting
February 17-20, 2022
Virtual Conference

National Science Policy Network (NSPN) Symposium
November 19-20, 2021
Virtual Conference

AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop
September 23-24, 2021
Virtual Conference

S4D4C Final Networking Meeting
March 15-19, 2021
Virtual Conference

AAAS Annual Meeting
February 8-11, 2021
Virtual Conference

Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Meeting
November 19-21, 2020
Virtual Conference

National Science Policy Network (NSPN) Symposium
November 13-14, 2020
Virtual Conference

AAAS Science and Technology Policy Forum
October 13-14, 2020
Virtual Conference

International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) Meeting
July 20-22, 2020
Virtual Conference

AAAS Annual Meeting
February 13-16, 2020
Seattle, WA

Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Meeting
November 20-24, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona

National Science Policy Network (NSPN) Symposium
November 1-3, 2019
Madison, Wisconsin

AIMBE Public Policy Institute
October 28-29, 2019
Washington, DC

International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) Meeting
April 24-28, 2019
Kyoto, Japan

3rd International Conference of Women in Science without Borders (WISWB)
March 10-14, 2019
Cairo, Egypt

AAAS Annual Meeting
Feb 14-17, 2019
Washington, DC

Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Meeting
November 15-18, 2018
New Orleans, Lousiana

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting
November 3-7, 2018
San Diego, California

SEPA & NSPN Second Annual Science Policy Symposium
November 10, 2018
New York, NY

Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (MCGSBS) Symposium
September 26, 2018
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Individualizing Medicine Conference
September 12-13, 2018
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

24th Annual Mayo Clinic and Karolinska Institutet Scientific Meeting
September 10th-11th, 2018
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Leadership Development

AAAS-TWAS Course on Science Diplomacy
July 25 - August 3, 2022

iBiology Young Scientist Virtual Training Series
September 28 - October 30, 2020

NSPN SciPol Scholars-in-Residence (SPSR) Program
July 29 - August 26, 2020

ASBMB Advocacy Training Program (ATP)
June 14 - December 6, 2019

Capita3 Leader Launch Program / Mayo Clinic
September 4-25, 2018
Rochester, MN

Mujeres de HACE
August 22 - December 11, 2018
Minneapolis, MN

Latest Posts


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¡Hola Jevas! Mi nombre es Luz Milbeth Cumba García (@lmilbeth @scitopia) y aunque no lo parezca soy una científica boricua. Soy inmunóloga, o sea, que trabajo con enfermedades del sistema inmunitario, como el cáncer. Actualmente me encuentro en la Clínica Mayo (@mayoclinic) en Rochester, Minnesota (¡sumamente frío!) haciendo mi doctorado en Inmunología. Mi tésis se enfoca en diagnosticar tumores cerebrales agresivos como glioblastoma (GBM) de forma no invasiva, estudiando pequeñas partículas que se encuentran en la sangre, llamadas exosomas. ¡Imagínate saber si tienes cáncer y si el tratamiento te funciona con tan sólo una muestra de sangre! ¡Estamos en el proceso de patentarlo y comenzar una compañía muy pronto! Mis amigos cercanos me apodan Carmen Sandiego ya que nunca saben en qué parte del mundo estoy metida; gracias a las ciencias he tenido la oportunidad de viajar constantemente y conocer lugares que nunca imaginé. Soy de Carolina y estudié en la Universidad Metropolitana mi bachillerato en Biología Celular y Molecular. Allí tuve la oportunidad de pertenecer a la Beca de Ciencias y de hacer 4 internados de verano en USA, España, Alemania y Brasil. En Alemania trabajé con el Premio Nobel de Medicina, Harald zur Hausen, quien descubrió el rol del virus de papiloma humano en cáncer cervical (bien importante para nosotras, jevas). Hice mi maestría en Granada, España donde además de disfrutar de buena ciencia, me deleité con las tapas. Luego de eso, me fui a China por 4 meses a enseñar destrezas básicas de investigación a estudiantes de primer año en ciencias. Además de la investigación, me apasiona la regulación y la diplomacia científica. Mi meta es trabajar con el gobierno para el avance de la ciencia, fomentando colaboraciones científicas con otros países. Mi mayor anhelo es seguir representando a la mujer latina (y puertorriqueña) en las ciencias donde quiera que vaya. He tenido la bendición de recibir muchos premios y reconocimientos, pero nada se compara con la satisfacción de ayudar a otros y de amar lo que haces. Visiten mi página luzcumbagarcia.com para que estén al tanto de mis próximas aventuras. ¡Washington, DC, Egipto y Japón son las próximas!

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