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I am a Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine, Immunologist, Scientist, Cancer Researcher, Entrepreneur, Environmentalist, and Animal/Plant Conservationist.
I live in Davis, California but also have a house in the barrio Yahuecas in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico where I spend as much time as possible. As hobbies, I keep a plantion of exotic fruit trees in Puerto Rico and a collection of rare and endangered tortoises in California.
Founding President of a Biotechnology company that I named Variation Biotechnologies and is now known as VBI Vaccines.
Medical Immunology: MMI 480A is a medical school immunology course that I teach and coordinate. We have adapted the course with the addition of non-lecture materials such as small group case studies. I also prepare self-learning modules designed to be completed online in 3 hours. I review past questions from the microbiology and immunology section of the national board of medical examiners test in order to prepare the students for the boards and comply with LCME recommendations. I attend focus group meetings with the medical student representatives, the Block assessment meeting, the meeting of Block Council, Block Liaisons, and IORs to discuss ways to improve integration of components of the Block 1 and 2 curriculum, the MMI480A Immunology course evaluations meeting, and meet with student representatives to help them with study techniques to do well in the immunology quizzes and exams. I also prepare and give lectures on virology and cancer to the medical students. During the past 5 years, I have been attending many meetings with faculty, staff and students in Sacramento to improve the School of Medicine curriculum. We have worked to integrate the contents of our course with the other subjects taught during the same block.
Human Immunology: This course (MMI 188) is taken by senior undergraduates and some graduate students. The course has grown from 30 to more than 145 students. This course is very popular and has received excellent evaluations from the students. There has been a waitlist for the course during the last 4 years. As a result of the many students that enroll in this course and go on to medical, dental, pharmacy and graduate school, I write a large number of recommendations letters after conducting interviews and analyzing their application packages. In addition to giving all 26 lectures in MMI 188, I set up the recording equipment to post the mp3s online and provide lasers and remotes for audio-visual projection. I also edit and post all the 26 lectures online, prepare all the questions for the 3 exams, correct exam results and prepare final grade reports. I hold 6-10 office hours per week to accommodate the many students that require extra help in the course.
Most of the MMI 188 students are senior biological sciences majors that aspire to attend graduate, dental or medical school so I do significant career counseling and hold meetings where they present specific information to be considered for inclusion in the recommendation letters.
For the last five years, I have been the IOR of MMI 291, the seminar series of our department “Emerging Challenges in Microbiology and Immunology”. After soliciting and collecting suggestions from the faculty, I write letters to all potential speakers and negotiate terms for their presentations. This seminar is delivered every Friday during three quarters a year.
For all my courses, I prepare original drawings of professional quality that the students find very helpful in understanding the basic and advanced concepts pertaining to immunology and virology. The original illustrations created with Adobe’s Illustrator undergo frequent updating to account for current knowledge in the field. My collection is extensive and will be converted to a Human Immunology book in the future.
I am an active member of 3 graduate groups (Immunology, Microbiology, Comparative Pathology). I have been a member of several Ph.D. thesis committees, qualifying exam committees and Master’s program comprehensive exams for all these Graduate Groups. I also act as major advisor for postdoctoral fellows.
I prepare SmartSite website pages for all my courses.
I am the inventor on two patents issued in 2006 and 2011 as follows:
On October 10, 2006, I was issued United States Patent # 7118874 (Inventor: Torres, José V.) “Immunogenic formulation and process for preparation thereof”. This patent covers the use of antigenic variation to develop vaccines, diagnostics and new treatments against infectious agents that undergo genetic variation.
On October 4, 2011, I was issued United States Patent # 8029797 (Inventors: Torres, José V., Anderson, David E and Diaz-Mitoma, Francisco J) “Multivalent HIV immunogenic compositions comprising a pool of lipidated and nonlipidated peptides representing Gag and Env variable regions”. This patents covers a formulation of an HIV vaccine that has been shown to elicit cross-reactive immune responses in primates.
I review manuscripts very frequently on an ad hoc basis for several journals including Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy, Journal of Clinical Virology, AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, Vaccine, Future Drugs, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Immunology, Health, PLoS ONE and others.
Following basic principles of social responsibility, I spend a significant amount of my time in public service mainly directed to Latin American settings in countries such as Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. We organize meetings where prominent cancer researchers give keynote seminars, mini-courses and participate in patient clinical rounds. I got involved in these activities due to the very high incidence of cancer in that agricultural region of Mexico. Various risk factors, including viruses have been documented. However, the indiscriminate and practically unregulated use of excessive amounts of inexpensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers is strongly suspected as a major factor. In 1994, I founded a Latin American association of scientists that coordinates training of Hispanic graduate students and scholars in the United States and that has convened several congresses and scientific workshops in Latin American countries and in the US.
Since 2005, I review grant proposals and conduct project performance evaluations for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). URAU is described as a 101-member university consortium of major Ph.D.–granting academic institutions that brings together university faculty and students to collaborate on major scientific initiatives that help keep America on the leading edge of science and technology. During the last 5 years, I have done 7 cycles of 3-8 proposals each. I also have performed proposal reviews for the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (NIH MBRS-SCORE Program).
I served in the Compensation Advisory Committee that meets once a month in Sacramento to review the compensation plans of all departments and subdivisions of the School of Medicine. This committee also hears formal salary grievances of faculty members against departments. This is a very busy committee and I attended several grievance meetings for 4 years from 2005-2009. Only faculty who have recently served in this committee know the high level of commitment created by the salary grievances.
I participate in a national project to assess grant review protocols for a separate consortium of major Ph.D.–granting academic institutions, serve as an immunology/biotechnology expert on idea connection online, meet with students with special needs, serve as member of the Gerson Lehrman Group Health Council and the Science Advisory Board. I also participated in the Population Sciences, Cancer Etiology, Prevention and Control mini-symposium that took place on November 15, 2007 to review collaborative work being done between UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore Lab and the CA Cancer Registry sponsored by the Population Research & Cancer Disparities of the UC Davis Cancer Center.
I now serve as Chair of the Educational Policy Committee of the Microbiology Graduate Group. My responsibilities include meeting with all the students that are eligible to take their qualifier exam and discuss the requirements pertaining to the research proposals. The chair does extensive negotiations on the contents and themes of both proposals, qualifier exam committee members and other aspects of the process as evidenced by the hundreds of emails now stored in my MGG EPC mailbox folder. Many proposals need revisions until acceptable according to the graduate group guidelines. As a committee, we are responsible for review and approval of the primary and alternate pre-proposals and for assigning qualifier exam committee members. The chair also prepares the committee report for the annual meetings. I also interview prospective students for 3 graduate groups.
I conduct recruiting interviews for a faculty and physician candidates for the School of Medicine. I also interview candidates for the Physician Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.) and Limited Submission Pre-Proposals for the Dana Foundation (Neuroimmunology of Brain Infections and Cancers) for the Office of Sponsored Programs of the UC Davis School of Medicine.
I support the Minority Association of Pre Med Students (M.A.P.S.) at UC Davis, meet with prospective students during the UC Davis STEM preview day and supported a student during the 2009 CBST Summer Internship Program. During the last 2 years, I represented the MMI department at the commencement ceremony for the graduating medical students.
Our laboratory performs cancer research including: Design, development and testing of new tumor vaccine components. Study of tumors that avoid recognition and elimination by the human immune system. Development of preventive and therapeutic approaches against CANCER. Induction of cellular and mucosal immune responses against tumor cells.
Current Interests are: Cancer Immunotreatment Foundation Tumor Immunology Cancer Immunomodulation Cancer Immunotherapy Preventive and Therapeutic Vaccination Against Cancer
Puerto Rican Science Project: I am building a small meeting place in barrio Yahuecas in Adjuntas to promote all aspects of science and conservation.
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