NREF Success Story: Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD, FAANS

Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD, FAANS, received the 2013-14 NREF & AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section Research Fellowship Grant. Dr. Rodriguez gave NREF the following update on her career and research:

Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD, FAANS


Following my residency, I did a fellowship at City of Hope National Medical Center in neurosurgical oncology. I was inspired by my fellowship to learn how to integrate clinical trials in my practice. Following fellowship, I started my faculty position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences which included an independent laboratory.

As the Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at my institution, I spearheaded a precision medicine initiative and founded a research tumor bank that enables us to perform next generation sequencing on samples from all brain tumor patients. This initiative was based on my long-term interest in developing new therapeutics for patients with malignant brain tumors in order to improve survival.

Accordingly, my research focuses on using transcriptomics to identify druggable gene expression pathways and to validate these targets in patient derived organoids for a functional precision medicine platform for brain tumors. I also am working on the development of patient derived organoids that retain the immune microenvironment in order to test novel immunotherapeutic strategies. My research also focuses on methods to reduce health disparities for brain tumor patient in rural areas, increase diversity in brain tumor clinical trials, and develop cancer patient derived clinical models that are representative of our diverse population.

I was recently selected to join the inaugural cohort of physicians who are in the Robert A Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program. Through this innovative program I will be trained as a clinical trialist to address health equity needs in my area of expertise. I also am in the initial cohort of the NCI Early Investigator Advancement Program. I look forward to using my skillsets from these programs to advance therapies and health equity for brain tumor patients in underserved areas.

“The NREF was an amazing opportunity for me during my residency and allowed me to meet many of the neurosurgeon-scientist leaders at the forefront of clinical translational medicine. The NREF award also was immensely valuable when looking for an academic job with protected research time as it indicates to departments that your research has been formally vetted by a rigorous peer reviewed process. As a NREF recipient, I therefore was interested in what happened to individuals following their award. I am the senior author on the first publication which looked at characteristics and career outcomes of NREF awardees and was truly impressed by the number of award recipients who go on to obtain NIH extramural funding. There are now several publications demonstrating the extraordinary impact of the NREF award on academic neurosurgery careers.”

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