The Early Career Award recognizes current members of the SIVB who are outstanding early-career scientists and who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology and/or in the development of novel technologies that have advanced in vitro biology. The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. Jessica Rupp and Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres with the Early Career Award at the virtual 2021 In Vitro Online Meeting of the Society for In Vitro Biology. Dr. Ferrer-Torres’ Early Career Award is highlighted in the current issue of the In Vitro Report, and Dr. Rupp’s Early Career Award was highlighted in the previous issue of the In Vitro Report.

Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres

2021 SIVB Early Career Award Recipient

Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres

Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres Awarded the 2021 SIVB Early Career Award

Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres is the recipient of the 2021 Young Scientist award. Following her undergraduate work at the University of Puerto Rico, she moved to the University of Michigan to obtain her PhD in Biomedical Sciences-Cancer Biology through the University of Michigan Medical School under the mentorship of Dr. David Beer. As a postdoc, she has continued working at the University of Michigan Medical School under the guidance of Dr. Jason Spence in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology. In conjunction with her work at the University of Michigan, she has also established a partnership to consult with the University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center with the goal of setting up a gastrointestinal organoid biobank to fill the gap in racially diverse cell lines available to the scientific community.

Dr. Ferrer-Torres is dedicated to developing a culture system to sustain biologically-relevant, patient-derived esophageal organoid lines from a variety of racial backgrounds. Her passion is understanding the effect of racial disparities on cancer and related health conditions. She has established a large repository of over 60 cell lines derived from patient biopsies, using both 2D and 3D cell culture techniques. These lines come from normal tissue, pre-cancerous Barrett’s tissue, and adenocarcinoma tissue. This work addresses a distinct modeling gap in esophageal research, as well as in the field of disease-related racial disparities. Her modeling system recapitulates the human esophagus down to the single cell level, as shown by single cell RNA sequencing analysis comparing her in vitro cell lines to the original patient source tissue. Remarkably, the system is also able to maintain race-specific response to carcinogens, which reflect disease racial demographics

Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres accepting the 2021 SIVB Early Career Award

Since 2011, Dr. Ferrer-Torres has published 12 peer-reviewed publications, including a number of reports that are already highly cited. She continues to contribute exciting impactful work and has multiple articles currently in revision. She has been increasingly busy with speaking engagements, including a presentation to the National Cancer Institute and an invitation to speak at the 2020 SIVB World Congress. Although a new member of SIVB, she has been a very active meeting organizer, co-convening sessions for the 2021 In Vitro Biology Meeting and now for the San Diego 2022 Meeting. She was a 2019 Keystone Symposia Future of Science Fund scholarship recipient, the 2019 University of Michigan Cancer Biology Distinguished Alumna, and currently has a T32 fellowship with the University of Michigan Center for Cell Plasticity and Organ Design. She has also distinguished herself as a dedicated and compassionate mentor, both to the undergraduate classes that she has taught and to the variety of students she has mentored directly in the lab. Through her work with the UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center, she is now mentoring multiple junior faculty members as well. Beyond contributing outstanding science to the community, Dr. Ferrer-Torres is very committed to establishing internal and external collaborations, such as that with UPR, and is genuinely interested in the future success of her students, staff, and colleagues. We congratulate Dr. Ferrer-Torres on receiving this award and look forward to seeing where her career takes her next.

Submitted by:
Margaret Bohm

Graduate Student
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Biochemistry
University of Tennessee Health Science Center

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