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Zarixia Zavala-Ruiz

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Zarixia is a Senior Science Program Manager for several scientific programs at Janelia. In this position, she manages the Group Leader and Fellow competitions, appointment reviews and mentoring program. She also provides oversight for the Visiting Scientist Program, currently comprised of over 100 scientists from all over the globe engaged in collaborative projects with our resident scientists.  Recently, she spearheaded the development of a new program at Janelia, the Graduate Research Fellowship.

Zari has more than twelve years of academic research experience in the fields of biochemistry, structural biology and molecular immunology.  She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus and earned her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Lawrence J. Stern.  During her PhD, she conducted structural and biochemical research that helped elucidate several aspects of peptide binding to the human class II major histocompatibility complex protein HLA-DR1, an immune system protein that activates a T-cell response.  She did a short postdoc in the Pathology Department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School before moving to the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Co-Director of the Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility.  At UPR, she worked on the immunological responses associated with breast cancer in Hispanic woman. For several years, Zari served as consultant to a small biotech startup aimed at developing tools for epigenetic analysis and represented the interests of the scientific founders on the Board of Directors of the company.