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Poster hall with students review research poster

April 8, 2021

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff

The 'Meet My Research' series aims to showcase the research our students are involved with and the labs where they work. Join us as we go into the lab, introduce you to some of our learners, and interview them about what they're up to with their research and experience at Mayo Clinic!

Meet Luz Milbeth Cumba Garcia, a Ph.D. student in the Immunology Track within the Ph.D. Program of Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences on the Rochester, Minnesota campus.

What draws you to research?

Since early in my career, I was exposed to research and had the unique opportunity of participating in summer internships in different countries including Brazil, Germany with the Nobel Laureate Dr. Harald zur Hausen, and Spain, in addition to teaching basic science skills to college students in China. I explored different research areas including biochemistry, botany, and immunology, and fell in love with the latter. A cathartic event that helped me to decide and pursue a degree in immunology was the deaths of several family members and friends due to cancer in the last couple of years.

What does your research entail?

I'm currently working on the development of a non-invasive technique to diagnose and monitor patients with glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumors using small particles called extracellular vesicles (EVs) that can be found in the blood.

How would you describe your research to a 10-year-old?

I study tiny but mighty particles in the blood that help to detect brain tumors without surgery and pain-free!

Tell us about your lab or where you do your research. What lab are you in and what is your role? 

I work in the lab of Dr. Ian F. Parney, who is a neurosurgeon and the best mentor ever! I’m a graduate student.

What are your future career goals?

In the future, I aim to become an advocate for cancer patients by working in partnerships between countries for the advancement of science, for example, to bring specific types of technologies and immunotherapies to cancer patients worldwide. I would also like to work in public policy with the U.S. government as a science and technology advisor to the Secretary of State (U.S. Department of State), and thus assist in decision making and advocate for evidence-based public policy.