Postdoctoral Training

The Stanford Department of Surgery currently educates more than 40 postdocs at varying levels of expertise. Mentors from all five of our clinical divisions (abdominal transplantation, general surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and vascular surgery) support the personal growth and professional development of postdoctoral trainees at labs across our Palo Alto campus. 

A postdoc appointment at Stanford's Deptartment of Surgery can be achieved through multiple avenues. While Stanford will often list open positions, most of our postdocs start their journey by researching our faculty and finding a mentor. The Department of surgery also offers several ACGME and ASTS accredited fellowship programs.

Meet our Postdocs

Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD

Mentor: Dr. Sheri Krams

Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the Transplant Immunology Lab.

“The immune system has always fascinated me,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “There is a large variety of immune cells that help us to fight cancer and microbes and keep us healthy, but I have a great interest in natural killer(NK) cells.”

NK cells are lymphocytes that belongs to the innate immunity system and rapidly sense and destroy abnormal cells.

Born in Congo, Dr. Mbiribindi moved to France as a young girl and earned her bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences at Paris Descartes University. After completing her master’s in Immunology and Microbiology at Pierre-and-Marie-Currie University, Dr. Mbiribindi moved across the Channel to work on her doctorate at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom). Dr. Mbiribindi says she decided to come to Stanford because, not only was Dr. Sheri Krams inviting her to research exactly what she was interested in, but she was giving her the opportunity to do so using Stanford's unparalleled resources.

“I’m investigating the role of NK cells in the recognition and response to Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) 90% of the world population is infected by EBV but it’s a-symptomatic because our immune system keeps it in check,” said Dr. Mbiribindi.

However, after organ transplantation, EBV can cause Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder (PTLD).

“In that situation the EBV can reactivate as the organ recipient’s immunity is not fully available to fight it due to the immunosuppression treatment,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “The goal of my research is to utilize a NK-cell based approach to prevent disease caused by EBV.”

Dr. Mbiribindi was awarded The Transplantation Society Young Investigator Scientific Award 2018. She will present her work entitled, Natural killer cell recognition of peptides encoded by EBV latent cycle proteins, at the 27th International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Madrid later this year.

“There is still a lot to discover about these cells,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “In the near future, I’m hoping to become a Primary Investigator and have my own team working on NK cells for therapeutic applications.”

Mike Hu, MD, MPH

Mentors: Dr. Michael T. Longaker and Dr. H. Peter Lorenz

Dr. Hu went to medical school at New York Medical College earning a joint MD/MPH degree in Health Policy and Management during which he underwent a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Training Program. After medical school, Dr. Hu completed two years of general surgery residency training at the University of Hawaii. He is now completing his fifth year as a postdoctoral fellow.

“When I was 10 years old, my sister was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which the stem cells in her bone marrow stop producing enough new blood cells. A team of physicians used my stem cells to save my sister’s life,” said Dr. Hu. “Since then, I have had a tremendous respect for physicians and a keen interest in stem cells and how they can be used to cure diseases. Dr. Longaker and Dr. Lorenz study the role of stem cells in wound healing.”

While working as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, Dr. Hu has had the opportunity to work on a number of projects including the mechanisms underlying fetal scarless wound repair, stem cells in wound healing, macrophage/monocyte transplantation in wound repair, the interaction between tumors and wounds, identification of the fibroblast sub-population responsible for scarring and fibrosis, and fibroblast heterogeneity.­

Dr. Hu aspires to become an academic craniofacial plastic surgeon.

Alessandra Moore, MD

Mentor: Dr. Michael Longaker

Dr. Moore is in her third-year of Brigham and Women's Hospital General Surgery Residency Program. As a part of Harvard Medical School, surgical residents perform a minimum of two years of research between their second and third years of clinical training.

“The major attraction for me to come to Stanford was to work with Dr. Michael Longaker. He is the most preeminent surgeon scientist, particularly in the field of stem cell biology,” said Dr. Moore. “With my background in cell biology and device design, I was looking for a lab where I could learn to be a better scientist and principle investigator from a fellow surgeon. Additionally, I wanted to challenge myself by becoming exposed to new biology and a new method of studying surgical disease.”

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Hobart and William Smith College, Dr. Moore spent two years in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine: BioMEMs Recourse Center, where she created novel microfluidic devices for the detection and enumeration of circulation tumor cells in blood. Now as a second-year postdoc in the lab, Dr. Moore is focusing her interest on the differences between fetal and adult fibroblasts, specifically the signals leading to scarless wound repair.

“So far, my work in the lab has been both challenging and invigorating; it has made me even more certain that my future career should include both a surgical practice and running a laboratory of my own,” said Dr. Moore. “The facilities and opportunities at Stanford are incredible. Anything you would like to study is at your fingertips.”

Dr. Moore is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Where are they now?

Melanie Rodrigues, PhD

Promoted to Instructor 2017

“Apart from being immersed in bench work, the distinguishing aspect of being in Dr. Geoffrey Gurtner’s lab has been the freedom to explore and determine the combinations of science that I want incorporated in my career,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “Mentoring students has been rewarding. I realized I enjoy grant writing. I have been exposed to the nuances of biomedical commercialization including working with biomedical accelerators and startups in the Silicon Valley. I have written a segment of an FDA-investigational new drug application.”

Born a small city on the south west coast of India, Dr. Rodrigues became fascinated with biotechnology while in high school. She went on to study Bioengineering in Bangalore, where she was exposed to stem cell research for the first time.

“It made me want to develop cell-based therapies, and I moved across continents to the University of Pittsburgh for a PhD.,” said Dr. Rodrigues.

Following her PhD, Dr. Rodrigues was intent on both basic in vivo discovery and developing technologies that could cure patients.

“I was drawn to Dr. Gurtner’s lab as it offered the entire pipeline of conducting research, developing products and commercializing therapies from within an academic setting,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “My work here at Stanford has focused on identifying ischemia-responsive circulating stem cells using single cell technologies, but also studied cellular heterogeneity in homeostasis and disease with a focus on type 2 diabetes.”

Dr. Rodrigues was awarded the Wound Healing Foundation’s 3M Fellowship and the Stanford Biomaterials and Advanced Drug Delivery Award for her work.

“There has always been time to do more and moments of boredom have been rare,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “I am grateful for the vast exposure I have received as postdoc, and look forward to translating this unique training in the years to come.”