Published On: Sat, Dec 24th, 2016

FAU Graduate Earns Prestigious Post-Doctoral Fellowship

By Kelsie Weekes 

Ramon Garcia-Areas’ groundbreaking research on breast cancer has earned him a prestigious post-doctoral fellowship at Institut Curie in Paris, one of the world’s leading research institutes. Garcia-Areas, 31, graduated from Florida Atlantic University on Friday, Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. in the Carol and Barry Kaye Auditorium with a doctorate in integrative biology.

Garcia-Areas moved to the United States from Honduras in 2005, and found FAU after taking classes at nearby Palm Beach State College. He was interested in the curriculum and research opportunities at FAU, and later enrolled as an undergraduate biological sciences major. He quickly found his passion for research, and joined the lab of Vijaya Iragavarapu-Charyulu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, where he pursued his interest in cancer research.

“From the time he started he was very motivated, showed great interest and impressed everyone with his work ethic and willingness to engage in difficult projects,” said Iragavarapu-Charyulu.

Garcia-Areas’ research focused on a novel gene in breast cancer that can be used as a prognostic marker for the risk of metastasis. His research was the first of its kind, and he has since been awarded a patent as the primary inventor for this new method of assessing the metastatic potential of breast cancers.

With the help of Iragavarapu-Charyulu, Garcia-Areas also was instrumental in forging a relationship with Boca Raton Regional Hospital, and received a $50,000 research grant from the hospital’s Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute to support his studies. His research efforts also have culminated in the publication of eight peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and 13 awards and honors.

Outside of his research accomplishments, Garcia-Areas said mentoring undergraduate students has been one of the things he enjoyed most at FAU.

“I’ve been a research assistant and an instructor for the biology honors thesis program,” he said. “I love getting to work with the undergraduates and teach them how to develop thesis projects and find funding for their ideas.”

Garcia-Areas also served as the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine representative for the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) and founded the Art of Academia competition, a competition for students from all majors to showcase their research visually through artwork. As a result of these efforts, Garcia-Areas was awarded the 2014 FAU Excellence in Leadership award.

“Even though Ramon has received many accolades, he remains humble and always volunteers to help others,” said Iragavarapu-Charyulu. “He enjoys lending his time and knowledge so that others can succeed in their goals.”

Following his graduation, Garcia-Areas will continue his studies at Institut Curie, where he hopes to further the field of cancer research and continue to mentor the next generation of young researchers.

“I’ve seen so many positive changes during my time at FAU,” he said. “I want people to see what I’ve accomplished and say ‘he went to FAU.’”

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