Luis’ Work Highlighted in Summer Issue of Synthesis

To download Synthesis Summer 2023 PDF

In this month’s UCDavis Comprehensive Cancer Center publication “Synthesis”, our lab’s members and work was highlighted.

On Page 3, Luis’ appointment to the UCDavis Office of Academic Diversity was announced. He’s working on

The goal is to empower equity leaders and elevate the work of diverse faculty members as they solve global problems. Other priorities include supporting equitable ecosystems
for student opportunity through the DEI’s Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) initiative, and modeling equity and inclusion in higher education.

Synthesis Summer 2023

On Page 12, Luis’ work on gastric cancer disparities in Latinos is highlighted:

“Unlike in other countries where overall gastric cancer incidence is high and where there are preventive programs that identify gastric cancer early, we do not have gastric cancer screening programs in this country,” Carvajal-Carmona said.

“On the prevention side, in our ongoing studies of gastric cancer predisposition, we hope this data will help to develop ways of preventing or catching gastric cancer earlier,” Carvajal-Carmona explained. “Early
detection is key to improving patient outcomes as treatments are more effective. Using genetics, we are trying to understand why some people get gastric cancer and others don’t. It is our hope that our studies of gastric tumors will find their vulnerabilities and the combinations of mutations that can be
targeted with effective therapies, which can be moved to clinical trials.”

Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Summer 2023 Synthesis

On Page 13, Luis’ grant award from the NCI for Global Health for Health equity cancer researchers was announced. He and Laura Fejerman will be awarded $250,000 annually to train at least 4 scientists from Latin American countries per year.

On Page 35, Luis’ work as the founding director of the Cancer Center’s Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equities it hightlighed

Celebrating National DNA Day 2023 with All Of Us California

Caitlin Leong (Undergraduate Researcher) and Paul Lott (Assistant Project Scientist) participated on a All Of Us panel in Sacramento, CA. They presented on how All Of Us is changing the research dataset paradigm – providing a rich genomics dataset that is available to all researchers.

“As a researcher, it’s easy to get started – just go to and register. Depending on the level of access that you need, it should take less than 8 hours to register, and get through the necessary training.” – Paul Lott, Ph.D.

If you aren’t already a participant, please join All of Us.

Luis Carvajal-Carmona appointed UCDavis Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Academic Diversity (DEI/OAD)

See for the full article

The Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is delighted to announce the appointment of Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Ph.D., as Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Academic Diversity (DEI/OAD), effective March 1, 2023.

The Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Academic Diversity plays an influential role in the DEI office as we seek to empower faculty equity leaders, elevate the work of diverse faculty as they solve global problems, support equitable ecosystems for student opportunity through our HSI initiative, and model equity inclusion in higher education.

Luis’ position reports directly to Renetta G. Tull, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and will serve on her core leadership team. “I am thrilled and excited to have these two talented leaders on our team who are experts and already contributing to advancing our DEI goals,” Tull said.

Dr. Carvajal-Carmona is professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and holds the Auburn Community Cancer Endowed Chair in Basic Science in the University of California Davis (UCD). He is the Associate Director for the Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEAL) Office, and the Founder Director of the Latinos United for Cancer Health Advancement (LUCHA) Initiative and of the Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity at the UCD Comprehensive Cancer Center. At the UCD Clinical and Translation Science Center, he co-directs of the Community Engagement Program.

“As a nationally recognized scientist and workforce diversity advocate, I look forward to working with VC Tull, our amazing DEI office team and our great leaders at Mrak Hall to advance inclusive excellence and to promote all dimensions of diversity among our students and faculty,” Carvajal-Carmona said.

As a researcher, Professor Carvajal-Carmona specializes on cancer genetics, epidemiology, health disparities and global health. His main contributions to science include the elucidation of the genetic origins of Latino populations, the discovery of the first common variants increasing risk of colorectal cancer and the identification of a novel familial form of gastric cancer. He has discovered multiple cancer susceptibility genes and variants and has published over 100 manuscripts in influential journals such as Nature GeneticsGastroenterologyAmerican Journal of Human Genetics, Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology and PNAS. He has received awards and fellowships from the European Association for Cancer Research, The University of Oxford and the V Foundation. Carvajal-Carmona has received funding from multiple agencies in Europe (Cancer Research UK, European Union, GSK Oncology) and the U.S. (V Foundation, California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, NIH) and is currently PI/MPI of grants totaling >$17M in research funding.

In addition to his passionate pursuit for scientific research, Carvajal-Carmona is a keen supporter of a diverse biomedical research force. He has mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate students, 95% of whom have been first-generation college graduates and members of under-represented groups. His mentees have been awarded 50+ fellowships and research awards and are all currently pursuing higher education or are employed at leading institutions and companies. In addition to the satisfaction of helping people with his research, Carvajal-Carmona’s most rewarding accomplishment is to see his mentees shine and achieve their dreams. He has been awarded the UCD Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and the UCD ADVANCE Scholar Award for his outstanding scholarship and mentorship.

Dr. Carvaja-Carmona invited speaker at International Congress of Human Genetics Conference Feb. 25, 2023

Dr. Carvajal-Carmona was invited to speak on February 25 at the 14th Annual International Congress of Human Genetics (ICHG) Conference (ICHG2023) in Cape Town, South Africa.

He delivered a talk in Session 17 – Predicting Phenotypes for Polygenic Traits in Diverse Populations. His talk was titled “Developing Effective Polygenic Risk Scores for Cancer in Latin American Populations” – discussing our work on developing polygenic risk score models for Breast cancer, Colorectal cancer, and Gastric cancer in Latino populations.

Publication “Multiregional sequencing analysis reveals extensive genetic heterogeneity in gastric tumor from Latinos” included in EGRP’s Research Highlights for 2022

Publications that exemplified the research from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded research are selected and highlighted by the Epidemiology and Genomic Research Program (EGRP) Research Highlights.

We are honored that Ted Toal’s paper characterizing the genetic heterogeneity in gastric cancer was selected to be highlighted for 2022. Ted and the lab put 1000s of hours into characterizing the molecular changes that occur and identifying the heterogeneity that present in gastric tumors. We hope that this paper will inform the research and medical communities design of new research projects and treatment of gastric cancer.

Ted W. Toal, Ana P. Estrada-Florez, Guadalupe M. Polanco-Echeverry, Ruta M. Sahasrabudhe, Paul C. Lott, John J. Suarez-Olaya, Alix A. Guevara-Tique, Sienna Rocha, Alexa Morales-Arana, Fabian Castro-Valencia, Shiro Urayama, Amanda Kirane, Dongguang Wei, Nora Rios-Sarabia, Rafael Medrano, Alejandra Mantilla, Magdalena Echeverry de Polanco, Javier Torres, Mabel E. Bohorquez-Lozano, Luis G. Carvajal-Carmona; Multiregional Sequencing Analysis Reveals Extensive Genetic Heterogeneity in Gastric Tumors from Latinos. Cancer Research Communications 2 November 2022; 2 (11): 1487–1496.

Michelle Wong awarded Ambassadors 2023 STEM Research NIL Award

Michelle Wong, an undergraduate researcher, in the Carvajal-Carmona Lab was awarded 1 of 10 STEM Research NIL Award Grants of $5,000. She joined the lab in September 2022 as an undergraduate bioinformatics researcher where she has been assisting the bioinformatics team in researching early-onset gastric cancer in Latinos.

Please see for more information about Michelle and the other awardees

See You Soon Celebration for Ana!

Lab Members with Ana

We’re saying a short farewell to Ana – as she heads back to Colombia to get her Visa sorted out. We’ll miss seeing her in the lab everyday. We’re not saying “Goodbye” – but rather “See you soon” because she’ll be returning to the lab soon.

Congratulations to Dr. Nicole Halmai on winning a presentation award from the 16th Spotlight on Early Cancer Investigators – A Cancer Research Mini-Symposium

A big congratulations to Dr. Halmai on her well-deserved presentation award. She was one of two presentation winners from this year’s UCDavis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 2022 Spotlight on Early Cancer Investigators – A Cancer Research Mini-Symposium

She presented her current research titled, “Establishing and Characterizing Patient-Derived Models from Racial/Ethic Minority Gastric Cancer Patients to Advance Cancer Precision Health Equity“.

Dr. Carvajal-Carmona Featured in Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicines – Faculty Feature

In August 2022, the UC Davis Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine featured Dr. Carvajal-Carmon in their Faculty Feature. The featurette details Luis’ work on health disparities in Calfornia as the founding director of the Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity at the UCDavis Comprehensive Cancer Center. The centers mission is “is to contribute to improved health outcomes for the underserved populations of northern and central California and to influence cancer policy-making at multiple levels of government.”

To read the article: UCD BMM August News Letter

For more information – Please contact Luis Carvajal-Carmona