Ana P. Gomes, PhD

Principal Investigator, Department of Molecular Oncology

I am originally from Portugal, where I obtained my BS in Biology at the University of Coimbra. Subsequently, I did my PhD with Dr. David Sinclair at Harvard Medical School, focusing on the molecular mechanisms of aging. I found that during aging, and before accumulation of genetic damage, a decline in NAD+ reprograms muscle cells to induce cancer-related metabolic pathways to drive muscle dysfunction. Following my PhD, I did a postdoc at Weill Cornell Medicine with Dr. John Blenis where I explored the role of aging as a determinant of cancer progression and metastasis formation. Outside of the lab, I enjoy travelling the world and getting to know new cultures. I also really enjoy music and love to go to concerts and dancing.  -  Curriculum vitae





Didem Ilter, PhD

Research Scientist

I grew up in Turkey, and came to the US to do my undergraduate studies at Williams College where I double majored in Biochemistry and Economics. It was during this time that I fell in love with research. I went on to do a Ph.D. followed by a postdoc with Dr. John Blenis first at Harvard University and later at Weill Cornell Medicine studying how oncogenic signaling driven by MAPK/ERK pathway drives an epigenetic reprogramming essential for metastasis formation. In the Gomes Lab, I study age-related epigenetic and metabolic mechanisms of immune regulation. In addition to science, I love reading dystopian fiction and baking. I also really enjoy traveling! So far, Italy is my favorite destination, but looking forward to see other countries that will make me change my mind.





Nadir Sarigul

Data Analyst

I was born and raised in a small village in the east of Turkey. I moved to the US in 2011 to pursue my bachelor’s degree. I graduated from Monroe College with a BS in Information and Technology. Over the past few years I have worked on web designing and social media marketing before I turned to coding and data analysis. Helping people has always been dear to me and as such I decided to use my skills to help identifying new treatments that can help cancer patients. In the Gomes Lab, I use in silico data analysis tools to find new age-driven mechanisms that aid tumor progression. I am a people’s person, so outside the lab I really enjoy hanging out with friends and meeting new people. I also love to travel and really enjoy winter and water sports.




Stanislav Drapela, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

I originally come from the Czech Republic. My previous academic and formal training has provided me with a comprehensive background in biochemistry and cancer biology. I did my Ph.D. in the Cancer Plasticity group of Dr. Karel Soucek at Masaryk University. The time spent under Dr. Soucek’s mentorship fostered in me the desire to do research that matters to patients, and so I focused my studies on identifying novel therapeutic strategies to bypass resistance to standard of care chemotherapies. It also reinvigorated a long interest of mine: to study cancer metastasis and dormancy. To pursue this passion, I joined the Gomes Lab where I, as a postdoc, study how aging and age-related factors affect metastatic colonization of disseminated breast cancer cells and dormancy in the lungs. Outside of the lab, I enjoy swimming, cycling, running, and winter skiing. I love traveling and exploring new places. My parents are my inspiration. 



Hossein Kashfi, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

I grew up in Tehran, Iran where I completed my B.Sc. in Biology. In the final year of my study, I found my passion towards cancer research, and I joined the Research Institute for Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences where I primarily worked in inherited colorectal cancers. I further obtained my PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Abdol S. Nateri at Nottingham University, United Kingdom where I studied colon cancer progression using intestinal organoid models for anticancer drug and gene functional analysis. In the Gomes Lab, I am investigating how aging-induced reprogramming of the circulatory metabolome affects NSCLC initiation and progression. Outside of the lab, I like to exercise and watch Sci-Fi TV series. I also love history so visiting castles and historical sites has been one of my favourite activities. 



Joanne Tejero

PhD Student

I grew up in Pembroke Pines, Florida and pursued my B.S. degree at the University of Central Florida where I double majored in Biomedical Sciences and Health Sciences. During my undergraduate career, I discovered my passion for scientific research and studied how CD4 T cells respond to environmental stimuli. I continued in this field of research and gained laboratory management experience as a research technician. I began my graduate career in 2020 as a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of South Florida. In the Gomes Lab, I study the metabolic fate of methylmalonic acid and its role in the tumor microenvironment. In my free time, I love spending time outdoors, doing yoga, watching movies, and visiting museums. I also enjoy traveling to the Philippines, which is where my family is from.



Devesh Raizada

PhD Student

I was born and raised in India where I completed my undergraduate studies in Biotechnology before moving to the US in 2017. I obtained my Masters’ degree in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, during the course of which I found myself to be deeply interested in tumor biology. Pursuing an interest in cancer sciences, I worked at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School to study long non-coding RNAs in breast cancer pathogenesis during the second year of my graduate program and where I later continued as a research assistant. As a PhD candidate in the Gomes Lab, I study the role of circulatory changes in the aged host in modulating anti-cancer drug efficacy and therapy resistance. Outside of science, I enjoy watching cinema from around the world and reading. My favorite spot for holidaying is at the hill stations of the Himalayas, which is the best place in my opinion to enjoy a good book!



Benito Traversa


I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, an environment that fostered my curiosity for nature and determination for promoting life. In 2015, I moved to the US pursuing a future for what already was a fully developed love for science. I am currently finishing my BS degree in Biomedical Science at the University of South Florida and working towards an MD/PhD in Neuroscience. Knowing their work on metabolism, I specifically sought out the Gomes Lab. Dr. Ana Gomes and her team have been a daily inspiration in my training, strengthening my resolve and progress towards a future in medical research and a lifelong interest in biochemistry, molecular oncology, and age-driven disease. Outside the lab, you'll find me holding a book on philosophy, a Latin American novel, or staring at nature.



Gabrielle Figueroa


I was born and raised in New York City for half of my life before moving to Florida. I recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. My greatest dream is to obtain a graduate degree and thereafter become a pediatric surgeon. Upon completing prerequisites for medical school, I discovered the Gomes Lab. Since starting, I’ve learned a great deal of research knowledge and what it means to complete experiments within a laboratory setting. I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team and truly love stepping into the Gomes Lab. During my time off, my favorite thing to do is be in the kitchen with my family. I also love to read novels of all genres and am a huge TV fanatic. 




Melina T. Bertulfo

Grants Administrator 

Prior to joining Moffitt in 2018, I provided over a decade of complex administrative support in the professional services industry serving the Fortune 500. I am passionate about providing effective support to all aspects of research administration, in particular, by gaining efficiencies through process improvement and effective communications. I have authored procedure manuals which have helped to facilitate learning, as well as to ensure business continuity. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Humanities with a concentration in Art History and Classical Civilization from Florida State University. A native of New York City, I’ve also resided in Metro DC and now call Tampa home. Outside of work, I enjoy time spent with family, travelling, visiting museums, reading and running races. I completed my first half marathon in February 2020.