Path from Del Mar College Biology Lab to MD Anderson Cancer Center Brings Alumnus Back Full Circle as Spring 2023 Commencement Speaker
Dr. Natividad Roberto Fuentes, Jr. to address DMC’s “prospective” graduates with message of “persistence” and “setting the bar” at American Bank Center on May 19
Article by Mleinda Eddleman
His journey into the world of cancer biology began in Del Mar College (DMC) Department of Natural Sciences labs under tutelage from faculty who have created groundbreaking student research opportunities in the Biology and Biotechnology Programs. Now, he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Friday night, May 19, Dr. Natividad Roberto Fuentes, Jr. will address the “prospective” graduates making up the Class of Spring 2023 at one of his four alma maters.
The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center (1901 N. Shoreline Blvd., 78401). This spring, the College will award to approximately 782 students a total of 938 associates degrees and certificates combined. Before these newest graduates take the spotlight by walking the stage, Dr. Fuentes will provide his keynote address covering “persistence” and “setting the bar.”
For family and friends who cannot make the ceremony, DMC Digital Services will livestream Spring Commencement 2023 beginning at 6:45 p.m. Access the event online by using one of the links below:
An Alice, TX native, Dr. Fuentes currently applies in his lab advanced microscopic techniques to characterize how changes to proteins and fats on and around tumors influence cancer therapy resistance. His goal is to develop cell membrane-based intervention strategies that improve human health and outcomes for patients stricken with cancer.
His path leading to that research began at Del Mar College, where he graduated in 2011 with an Associate of Science degree in Biology and a Certificate in Biotechnology. Dr. Fuentes then completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TAMUCC).
Throughout his time at DMC and TAMUCC, Dr. Fuentes participated in undergraduate research, leading to his receiving the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship to pursue his Ph.D. in Toxicology at Texas A&M University in College Station. Additionally, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America awarded Dr. Fuentes a predoctoral fellowship during his graduate studies, and he also held a Regulatory Science in Environmental Health and Toxicology Training Grant.
Dr. Fuentes’ doctoral and postdoctoral training at Texas A&M University centered around elucidating the underlying cellular mechanisms of how diet impacts disease processes. Specifically, his work utilized specialized fluorescent microscopy techniques and transgenic animal models to characterize how plasma membrane composition, in particular dietary fats, influence chemoprotection.
At The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, he completed the translational focused Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas TRIUMPH postdoctoral training program, where he pursued research to define how the combination of low oxygen and certain fats create an environment around pancreatic tumors that shield them from therapy. As a participant with the TRIUMPH program, Dr. Fuentes’ research focused on identifying novel mitochondrial- and plasma membrane-based therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Fuentes credits a great deal of his success to the guidance he received from many excellent mentors along his journey into cancer research. As such, he now follows suit and does his best to be a supportive mentor to his trainees.
He and his wife Megan (DMC Class of 2010) have a daughter and son who keep them busy. His hobbies include country swing dancing and enjoying some good Texas BBQ.
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.