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LUZ M. CUMBA GARCIA, Ph.D.

Immunologist | Policy Advisor | Science Communicator
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow
IAI STeP Science Diplomacy Fellow
Luz

About Me

¡Hola! Welcome to my page!

I am an immunologist with a unique career path that bridges biomedical science, public policy, and science diplomacy. Currently, as a second-year AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Mexican Affairs, I leverage my technical expertise to support U.S. - Mexico bilateral policy. In my initial fellowship year, I worked with the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), fostering Arab-Israeli scientific cooperation and regional development through research grants. I am also honored to be an Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Science, Technology, and Policy (STeP) Science Diplomacy Fellow. Prior to being a AAAS - STeP Fellow, I served as a Policy Advisor at Lewis-Burke Associates, where I provided expert advice on public health, biomedical research, and international affairs.

Being the first scientist in my family, I recognize the importance of making science meaningful and accessible to the public. With over 15 years of experience in academic, private, and government sectors combined, I have successfully communicated scientific findings to diverse audiences and translated them into impactful policy recommendations. My dedication to science communication, advocacy, and community outreach was recognized with the "Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 2020 Science Defender Award" for educating the public, especially Spanish speakers, about COVID-19. Additionally, I am committed to advancing evidence-based policymaking, evident in my roles as an ambassador of the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PRSPAN), and a founding member of the Science Diplomacy Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (DiploCientifica).

I take immense pride in my Puerto Rican heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, PR. Later, I earned my Ph.D. in Immunology from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where my research on extracellular vesicles in glioblastoma brain tumors resulted in a patent application. My academic journey has taken me to various countries, including China, Brazil, Germany (where I worked with the Nobel Laureate Harald zur Hausen), and Spain, where I obtained my Master's Degree at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez Neyra. Throughout my career, my research endeavors have garnered numerous awards, peer-reviewed publications, and opportunities to present at national and international scientific conferences. However, my most significant accomplishment is inspiring fellow Latinos to engage with science and contribute to the policymaking process.

Luz

About Me

¡Hola! Welcome to my page!

I am an immunologist with a unique career path that bridges biomedical science, public policy, and science diplomacy. Currently, as a second-year AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Mexican Affairs, I leverage my technical expertise to support U.S. - Mexico bilateral policy. In my initial fellowship year, I worked with the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), fostering Arab-Israeli scientific cooperation and regional development through research grants. I am also honored to be an Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Science, Technology, and Policy (STeP) Science Diplomacy Fellow. Prior to being a AAAS - STeP Fellow, I served as a Policy Advisor at Lewis-Burke Associates, where I provided expert advice on public health, biomedical research, and international affairs.

Being the first scientist in my family, I recognize the importance of making science meaningful and accessible to the public. With over 15 years of experience in academic, private, and government sectors combined, I have successfully communicated scientific findings to diverse audiences and translated them into impactful policy recommendations. My dedication to science communication, advocacy, and community outreach was recognized with the "Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 2020 Science Defender Award" for educating the public, especially Spanish speakers, about COVID-19. Additionally, I am committed to advancing evidence-based policymaking, evident in my roles as an ambassador of the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PRSPAN), and a founding member of the Science Diplomacy Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (DiploCientifica).

I take immense pride in my Puerto Rican heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, PR. Later, I earned my Ph.D. in Immunology from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where my research on extracellular vesicles in glioblastoma brain tumors resulted in a patent application. My academic journey has taken me to various countries, including China, Brazil, Germany (where I worked with the Nobel Laureate Harald zur Hausen), and Spain, where I obtained my Master's Degree at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez Neyra. Throughout my career, my research endeavors have garnered numerous awards, peer-reviewed publications, and opportunities to present at national and international scientific conferences. However, my most significant accomplishment is inspiring fellow Latinos to engage with science and contribute to the policymaking process.

My Ph.D. Dissertation

My Ph.D. dissertation aimed to study extracellular vesicles (EVs), tiny particles shed from brain tumors and found in the blood. These EVs send signals promoting tumor growth and suppressing anti-tumor immune responses. Analyzing these vesicles could help detect tumors, determine their type, track their progression, assess treatment effectiveness, and understand immune suppression. This knowledge can guide early treatment and avoid unnecessary interventions.

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

Upcoming Meetings

2024 STeP Leadership Conference
April 22-24, 2024
Antigua, Guatemala

Past Meetings

Science Diplomacy Training Program for Policy Makers in the Americas
October 19-21, 2023
Panama City, Panama

International Workshop on STI Development in Central America
September 21-22, 2023
Washington, DC

SRI 2023 Congress
June 26-30, 2023
Panama City, Panama

AAAS Annual Meeting
March 2-5, 2023
Washington, DC

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

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

IAI STeP Science Diplomacy Fellowship
March 2023 - March 2024

InnSciD SP Science Diplomacy School
August 1 - August 5, 2022

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

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