Student Ambassador: Leidy Caraballo Galva

Leidy Caraballo Galva
PhD in Molecular Medicine
Home country:
Dominican Republic
Yukai He, MD

Area of Research: Liver cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. To date there is no effective treatment, and the few chemo drugs that are currently used as treatment options can induce multiple side effects. We are engineering human T cells with novel chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to offer patients a treatment that utilizes their own immune cells to target and destroy cancer cells. This immunological approach might result in a safer and more effective treatment option.


Why did you choose your degree program (and biomedical research at AU)?

I want to make a difference in science. Thus, I was looking for a translational research program. Molecular Medicine offered me the opportunity to impact patients’ life with my research.

What is the greatest lesson or words of wisdom you have learned from your mentor? 

“Hard work always pays off”. “Whenever you need me, I will be there for you”.

You can contact him even at night, he will always reply!!!

What have you found most beneficial and enjoyable about your program?

The different courses and the reachability of the different professors. You can contact them about any difficulties you have, they will help you.

Please share words of advice for someone considering this program and research at AU?

It is critical to find a program that allows you to settle solid basis for your future career, and to find a place where you feel welcomed, accepted and valued.

What is your Favorite AU memory?

My interview day. My interviewers and the people I met that day made feel that I belonged here. I have found the place I was looking for.

What do you do for fun (hobbies etc)?  

I watch inspirational movies and cook some special meals.

Have you been involved in any other AU clubs, groups, activities, committees?  If so, which ones?  What positive experiences have you had as a result of your involvement/engagement?

  • Member of the Graduate School Student Council
  • Representative of the Graduate School Student Council at the Graduate School Faculty Council

Participating in these councils has allowed me to grow at a different level in my leadership. it gives me the opportunity to be an advocate for my fellow students, and to bring solutions and ideas to improve their experience at the Graduate School.


List any notable academic achievements (publications, poster presentations, talks, awards, etc).

Galva, L. D. C., Cai, L., Shao, Y., & He, Y. (2020). Engineering T cells for immunotherapy of primary human hepatocellular carcinoma. Journal of Genetics and Genomics, 47(1), 1-15.

Cai, L., Caraballo Galva, L. D., Peng, Y., Luo, X., Zhu, W., Yao, Y., … & He, Y. (2020). Preclinical studies of the off-target reactivity of AFP158-specific TCR engineered T cells. Frontiers in immunology, 11, 607.

Chakravarti, D., Caraballo, L. D., Weinberg, B. H., & Wong, W. W. (2019). Inducible gene switches with memory in human T cells for cellular immunotherapy. ACS synthetic biology, 8(8), 1744-1754.

Weinberg, B. H., Cho, J. H., Agarwal, Y., Pham, N. H., Caraballo, L. D., Walkosz, M., … & Benman, W. K. (2019). High-performance chemical-and light-inducible recombinases in mammalian cells and mice. Nature communications, 10(1), 1-10.

Weinberg, B. H., Pham, N. H., Caraballo, L. D., Lozanoski, T., Engel, A., Bhatia, S., & Wong, W. W. (2017). Large-scale design of robust genetic circuits with multiple inputs and outputs for mammalian cells. Nature Biotechnology, 35(5), 453-462.

List any notable academic achievements (publications, poster presentations, talks, awards, etc).

  • Academic excellence scholarship from the Dominican Government (2012-2014) for a Master’s in Biochemical Engineering at the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Toulouse (INSA).
  • Honored as ¨The best teacher of the year (2005-2006) ¨ in the private school Colegio Adventista La Caleta.
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Leidy Caraballo Galva
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